With four days to go until the Presidential election and with nine states voting on marijuana legal reform, it’s time to briefly visit each marijuana ballot initiative, especially since legalization or medical marijuana reform in one state can greatly impact other marijuana-friendly states and even federal marijuana policy. With a recent Gallup poll showing 60% of Americans favor cannabis legalization, come November, we expect to see a lot more legalized cannabis around the country.
Here are the nine marijuana ballot initiatives up for vote on November 8:
- Florida: Florida first tried passing a medical marijuana constitutional amendment by a vote of the people in 2014. Florida’s 2014 Amendment 2 took a strange and rocky road to the ballot box the first time around. The Florida State attorney general filed a challenge to strike it down, alleging it misled the public about its true intent and effect. The Amendment 2 campaign had to go before the Florida’s Supreme Court to keep Amendment 2 alive, which it did. Florida billionaire Sheldon 3 ponied up massive funds to fight against Amendment 2 through a well-funded group that claimed medical marijuana is the new “date-rape drug” and circulated a video that claimed Amendment 2’s main financial backer and supporter, lawyer John Morgan, was seeking total legalization of marijuana, not just medical. Amendment 2 made it to the ballot box but failed to get the votes needed to pass. Florida requires a 60% supermajority vote for constitutional amendments and Amendment 2 fell short by around 3%. What makes the 2016 Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions ballot amendment different from Amendment 2? Frankly, not much beyond clearer language this time regarding regulation and oversight of medical marijuana businesses, qualifying patients, and caregivers. That and the fact that recent polling indicates Floridians will pass the new Amendment 2.
- Montana: Montana has a tortured relationship with marijuana. It initially approved medical marijuana by ballot initiative in 2004 and the program survived a 2011 attempt to legislatively repeal it. Though Montana patients can still access marijuana, the cultivation to distribution chain in Montana is opaque and lacks any serious state oversight or regulation. Nonetheless, Montanans will vote on Initiative 182 this November in an effort to expand access to medical marijuana for patients and loosen restrictions created by the legislature as part of its 2011 appeal attempt. Initiative 182 will authorize the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to register, license, regulate, and oversee “providers” of medical marijuana who may cultivate, manufacture, and dispense medical marijuana. An October poll shows only around 44% of Montana voters support I-182.
- North Dakota: In our “State of Cannabis” series where we rank all of 50 states on marijuana laws and policy, North Dakota landed at an uninspiring 33 on the list. Yet North Dakota cannabis advocates were able to get a measure on the ballot to legalize medical marijuana and another measure to legalize recreational marijuana. A poll in late 2014 showed that 47% of North Dakota respondents support legalization of medical marijuana, but only 24% support legalizing recreational marijuana. Measure 5 proposes a program that “would create identification cards with specific criteria before they can be issued by the Department of Health for patients, caregivers, compassion centers and other facilities. The Act would create procedures for monitoring, inventorying, dispensing, and cultivation and growing of marijuana to be regulated and enforced by the Department of Health. A qualified patient could be dispensed up to three ounces of usable marijuana. For violations, the Act would authorize the Department of Health to provide for corrective action, suspension, revocation, appeal, hearings, and referral for criminal prosecution. The Act would require the Department of Health to submit an annual report to the legislature regarding program statistics.”
- Arkansas: Arkansas ranked number 40 in our State of Cannabis series, but that ranking will drastically change if Issue 6 passes this month. Until the Arkansas Supreme Court rejected Issue 7 earlier this month because of signature problems, it was looking like Arkansas would actually have two cannabis measures on its ballot this year. Issue 6, known as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016, would allow certain qualifying patients to access MMJ and create a regulatory system for cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of medical marijuana. Issue 6 is currently polling at around 45% voter support.
- California: California’s vote on Proposition 64 will likely be the most important cannabis vote our country will ever see. If Proposition 64 passes in California, California will regulate and tax recreational marijuana like alcohol. It is expected that California’s recreational cannabis economy will be at least ten times larger than Washington State, which currently has the highest legal recreational cannabis sales. If you want to know more about the ballot initiative, go here, here, here, here, here, and here. Recent polling indicates that Proposition 64 will handily pass.
- Arizona: Arizona has had a medical marijuana program since 2010, but its voters will soon get to decide on Proposition 205 to regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults 21 and older. Polling shows the initiative is at about 48% support.
- Nevada: Like California and Arizona, Nevada already has a heavily regulated medical cannabis regime but will now be voting on creating a recreational marijuana regime. Nevada’s Question 2 will allow adults over 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana flower or one-eighth of an ounce of concentrated marijuana with Nevada’s Department of Taxation regulate its legal cannabis market. The Initiative would create licenses for Cultivation Facilities (to cultivate, process, and package cannabis), Testing Facilities (to test cannabis and cannabis products), Manufacturing Facilities (to purchase, manufacture, process, and package cannabis), Distributors (to transport cannabis between cannabis establishments) and Marijuana Stores (to purchase from cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, and other retailers and to sell cannabis and cannabis products to consumers). Question 2 is currently polls at about 50% support,
- Maine: Question 1 is Maine’s recreational marijuana initiative. Maine has had medical marijuana since 1999 but Question 1 will legalize recreational cannabis for adults over 21 via “a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product-manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities, and it [will] create rules governing the production, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana and marijuana-related products (e.g. testing, labeling, and packaging requirements). Cities and towns will have the right to prohibit the operation of marijuana establishments.” March and September polls show 53% support for Question 1.
- Massachusetts: Massachusetts has had regulated medical marijuana only since 2013, but it’s already voting on legalizing adult-use marijuana through Question 4. Question 4 will regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol, creating a licensing system for cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries. An October poll has Question 4 at 55% support.