• November 27, 2020

Get Your Bets in on 2020 Drug Measures (No Joke)

 Get Your Bets in on 2020 Drug Measures (No Joke)

“The temptation of the gambling game.” By Ralf Steinberger, via CC

WASHINGTON — If you’re dead certain voters here in the nation’s capital are going to vote to decriminalize “magic mushrooms” on Election Day and you want that fast cash, now’s the time to lay down your bet. 

Oddsmakers think it’s not happening. That means a bet that voters here pass Initiative 81 – the DC ballot measure that commands local law enforcement to basically stand down on shrooms and other psychedelic plants – instantly triples your (risky) investment , according to Curacao-based betting website, MyBookie.com.

That measure here in Washington is among several drug-related ballot initiatives voters in red and blue states alike are being asked to vote on this election. These bookies are no political scientists, but they’re still giving us a window into what people with money to burn think the odds are that several states loosen restrictions on the war on ‘drugs.’

But unlike DC, Oregon is going to legalize mushrooms, the site is predicting. Meanwhile, marijuana is more likely to be legalized in Arizona and New Jersey than it is in South Dakota and Montana. (Mississippi is also voting on medicinal marijuana, but the site isn’t accepting bets on that).

The site’s lead oddsmaker, David Strauss, says he takes in opinion polling from around the country, and then looks at where that state has fallen on the political spectrum in recent years.

“I started with the polling and sort of saw what way it was leaning and then adjusted based on how conservative the attitudes in that state are,” he told The News Station. “If the state is historically red or blue, I based it off of that.”

Gambling. By Joel Kramer, via CC
Gambling. By Joel Kramer, via CC

So in Oregon, a west coast state that was early to legalize recreational marijuana, and where, as David Strauss put it, “you drive past all these farmer’s fields, and you just see a whole bunch of people walking in the field staring at the ground,” it seems like a safe bet. If you bet $100 that the state won’t pass the measure, you win $120 back over your original bet, whereas you have to wager $160 just to win $100 if you think the measure passes.

The nation’s capital, though? Well, David Strauss says he might be stereotyping the federal city, which does vote overwhelmingly in favor of Democrats for president, mayor, and city council. 

“It is Washington, DC, and they are ‘magic mushrooms,’” he says. “Legalize marijuana? It’s accepted. Everyone knows someone who smokes pot. It’s not really taboo anymore. Most people probably don’t know someone who’s done ‘magic mushrooms.’”

New Jersey is the state the oddsmaker thinks is most likely to legalize cannabis for recreational use. A $100 bet on that would only get you back $33. That’s because of larger trends in the northeast, Strauss says.

“It looks like momentum there is leading that way,” he feels. “New Jersey’s proximity to, say, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine – all those places have already legalized recreationally; it just sort of looks like the green wave, shall we call it, moving south.”

South Dakota is unlikely to legalize: a bet of $100 on ‘No’ would bring in $160 on top of the bet, though the same bet would only yield $62.50 if you’re set on the measure passing. 

In Montana, it’s a wash, Strauss predicts. He says odds are set equally on both sides.

By Anthony Catalano, via CC
By Anthony Catalano, via CC

The odds are less friendly in predicting whether Arizona voters decide to legalize marijuana or not, but they still indicate the state will pull the trigger, after voters shot down a ballot initiative to legalize in 2018. A $100 bet on ‘Yes’ nets just less than $53 but you win $190 on the same amount if you bet against the state legalizing in their second successive attempt. 

But take that all with a grain of salt: In 2018, Strauss was as hot on weed being legalized in Arizona as he is this year in New Jersey, but the state swatted the initiative down. 

Daniel Newhauser

Daniel Newhauser

Daniel Newhauser is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in the Atlantic, Roll Call, VICE, National Journal, Politico and several other publications. He can be found on Twitter @DNewhauser

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