Marijuana legalization is a hot topic across the country and ten different states have cannabis related bills on their ballots this coming November. Five states have recreational cannabis legalization on the agenda and five more have medical marijuana going up for a vote. Four of the states up for recreational legalization have “regulate marijuana like alcohol” campaigns, which proved successful in achieving recreational legalization in Colorado. The most politically decisive vote could possibly be recreational cannabis legalization in California. If California alone legalized recreational marijuana consumption, it would double the number of people who have access to recreational marijuana across the country. Here’s a preview on what’s on the ballot in three months.
California (Proposition 64) - Rec. Legalization
California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana nearly 20 years ago. Now, after failing to pass in 2010, recreational legalization is back up for a vote in the state. Proposition 64 would allow for people to possess one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants. The proposition also allows for gifting of up to a quarter ounce of marijuana to a person of legal age and includes stipulations for cannabis cafes. If the proposition is passed, it would prompt the creation of a new Bureau of Marijuana Control, which would take over for the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation that is currently in place in the state. The proposition includes a 15% sales tax, as well as a $9.25 per ounce cultivation tax at the wholesale level. In the spirit of California’s boutique marijuana growing industry, the proposition would only allow for “micro growers”, who grow under 10,000 square feet of product, to operate in the state until 2023 when “mega growers”, who have plots of more than a half acre indoors or an acre outdoors, would be allowed to open. The polls indicate that the vote will come out in favor of legalization.
Maine (Question 1) - Rec. Legalization
Maine’s Question 1 would allow for adults 21 and over to possess two and a half ounces of marijuana as well as six flowering and twelve immature plants. Question 1 also allows for the gifting of two and a half ounces of marijuana or six plants to other adults of legal consumption age. The regulation of the marijuana industry would fall under the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Local governments would also have the option to approve or ban commercial marijuana sales within their county lines. Maine would collect a 10% retail tax on cannabis. The question, if passed, would also allow for cannabis cafes. In preliminary polls 53% of Maine voters are in favor of legalization, but it will be a very close race to call.
Arizona (Proposition 205) - Rec. Legalization
Proposition 205 would allow people 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as six plants. It would also create a state agency that would oversee and regulate the new state industry. The proposition would also limit the number of dispensaries to one tenth of the number of liquor stores in the state, leaving room for fewer than 180 dispensaries total. Arizona would collect a 15% tax on marijuana products, 80% of which would go towards schools and the other 20% to substance abuse education programs. Arizona's strict drug laws, however, would remain in place. Currently if there is any presence of marijuana metabolites, even if inactive, a person is theoretically driving under the influence. Also, possessing 28 g of marijuana would be legal, but possessing 29 g would still be considered a felony. Current polls indicate that legalization may not be likely this coming November in Arizona.
Massachusetts (Question 4) - Rec. Legalization
Question 4 would allow for adults over 21 to possess one ounce of marijuana in public and ten ounces at home. If recreational marijuana is legalized in Massachusetts there would also be the opportunity for cannabis cafes. Massachusetts would put a 3.75% tax on marijuana, coupled with the 6.25% sales tax already in place in the state. Localities can also ban marijuana sale, but if they choose to approve it they are able to add another 2% tax to marijuana products within their county or city lines. Massachusetts currently is a tight race, polls have fluctuated from in favor of to against legalization at various polling times.
Nevada (Question 2) - Rec. Legalization
Nevada, who recently got medical marijuana programs moving in the state, is looking into recreational marijuana as well. Question 2 would allow for people 21 and over to possess one ounce of marijuana and six plants, but only if they live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary. Nevada would also collect a 15% wholesale tax on marijuana. The polling in the state is encouraging, but legalization is not inevitable.
5 States for Medical Legalization
Medical marijuana legalization is up for approval in Florida, Missouri, Michigan, Montana, and North Dakota. Florida's medical marijuana legalization bill lost by the small margin of 2% in 2014, but the use of marijuana for debilitating medical conditions is back on the ballot in November. Missouri does not yet have a formal bill on their ballot, but the correct number of signatures has been collected and it is expected to be put on the ballot after the validation of signatures. Michigan is also waiting for the validation of signatures before a formal bill is put on the ballot for November. Montana is voting on an expansion of their current state approved program. Montana first approved medical marijuana in 2004, but the new bill will add to the list of conditions that qualify, repeal limits on the number of patients doctors can recommend, and end unannounced inspections of prescribing doctors. The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act is up for a vote in November as well. It would allow for patients with qualifying conditions, such as cancer, AIDs, and epilepsy, to get medical marijuana from a dispensary or grow marijuana if they do not live within a 40 mile radius of a dispensary. Some other states are also in the process of collecting signatures to put medical marijuana legalization on the ballot this year. These states include Arkansas, which has a few more weeks to collect signatures before their deadline.