By Jason Liu, second-year student at the University of Washington School of Law.
This November, at least 12 states may have cannabis legislation on the ballot. Although a limited number of states allow use of cannabis such as Colorado or Washington, this number may increase this year. Importantly, these may be trends of higher public acceptance towards cannabis. Furthermore, the increase in state legalized systems will place pressure on Congress to review the federal DEA laws listing cannabis as Schedule 1.
Which States have Cannabis Related Ballot Measures?
Currently there are three states guaranteed to vote on cannabis (NV, FL, MN), and nine states that are in the process of securing getting the cannabis initiative on the ballot with California highly likely to vote this fall.
States that are voting on cannabis
Nevada’s recreational-marijuana initiative (Question 2), was approved for the ballot in Nov. 2015. The initiative aims to make the drug legal for adults aged 21 and up. If it’s approved, an excise tax of 15% would be enacted to support the state’s K-12 education budget.
Florida’s medical-cannabis initiative (Amendment 2), or the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, collected around 693,000 signatures and is on the ballot. Here, medical marijuana use would be limited to “debilitating” medical conditions as defined by a physician. This year’s initiative is a repeat following the narrow defeat of a similar medical-marijuana initiative in 2014 that saw the “yes” votes fall 2.4% short of the 60% required to pass.
Maine’s initiative (the Marijuana Legalization Act) legalized recreational use of cannabis for those 21 and older. A state excise tax of 10% would be imposed on recreational marijuana sales, and licenses within the state would be limited.
States in the process of locking on marijuana
As we reported earlier, California has around 600,000 signatures required to get the recreational cannabis initiative on the ballot. According to Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, “You can rest assured this will be on the November ballot.”
Arizona’s recreational marijuana initiative, the Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Act, requires at least 150,642 signatures collected by July 7. Currently, those running Arizona’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol have collected a total of 215,000 signatures, with a goal of 230,000 by their July 7th deadline. If it’s approved, a 10% tax would be imposed on recreational-marijuana sales.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (to add recreational cannabis use) of 2016 began collecting signatures in mid-February. In late April, Arkansans for Compassionate Care reported that around 76,000 signatures had been collected, with 84,859 needed to get the measure on the ballot.
The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Initiative in Massachusetts seeks to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Initially, 64,750 signatures were needed, which supporters easily met. However, the legislature failed to enact the initiative, requiring supporters to collect an additional 10,792 signatures by June 22 if it’s to make it onto the ballot.
In Michigan, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative (recreational) needed 252,523 signatures by June 1 to make it onto the November ballot. There currently are issues with the validity of some of the signatures, but 345,000 raw signatures were handed in.
The Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Missouri, if approved, would legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes and impose a 4% tax on the retail sale of medical marijuana.
Montana actually has multiple recreational-marijuana initiatives in the process of collecting signatures. If multiple initiatives are collect enough signatures, legislators will need decide on one.
- North Dakota
The Legalization of Marijuana Initiative in North Dakota is looking to legalize recreational marijuana within the state while also limiting taxation on recreational marijuana to no higher than 20%. Sponsors will need to gather 13,452 signatures by July 11 to get the initiative on the November ballot.
Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Oklahoma is looking to legalize the licensed growth and use of medical marijuana. The measure, filed in April, mandates that supporters collect at least 65,987 signatures to get it on the November ballot.