Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana got a major boost in New York on Election Day as Democrats took control of the state Senate.
The win means many progressive policies, including recreational pot, will face limited Republican opposition, especially after Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo cruised to a third term and the state Assembly remained deeply blue.
Lawmakers in Albany have already proposed legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults, but the issue is expected to get renewed debate in 2019.
Opponents have criticized state lawmakers, however, for yielding to cannabis lobbyists, citing concerns about marijuana companies marketing products to youth and creating public-health risks similar to Big Tobacco
Three states voted in favor of marijuana legalization in yesterday's midterm elections. Voters in Utah and Missouri approved the drug for medical use, while Michigan voters passed an amendment that legalized cannabis for recreational purposes. Though North Dakota voters rejected a push for recreational marijuana, the results are further evidence of growing support for easing marijuana restrictions.
Canada, Michigan's neighbor to the north, legalized marijuana sales for adults in mid-October, which added pressured for Michigan to pass recreational use, too.
Meanwhile, North Dakota voters rejected the state's initiative for recreational marijuana, though medical marijuana is still legal there. North Dakota is a very conservative state so the initiative was unlikely to pass.
Cannabis stocks got an initial boost following Tuesday's midterm election results that largely favored the marijuana industry. Shares of major cannabis companies rallied during Wednesday's premarket. Tilray gained as much as 6.6 percent; Canopy Growth added 3 percent; Aurora Cannabis rose 3.6 percent; Cronos Group was 4.2 percent higher; and Aphria was up 2.4 percent. All retreated from most of the gains by midday.
"I think people are waiting for the Berlin Wall of cannabis prohibition to topple over in the U.S. and I think yesterday's election removed a few more bricks from that wall," Tilray CEO Brendan Kenny told CNBC on Wednesday.