In just a few weeks, Americans will be casting their ballots in the midterm elections. And in four key states, voters will have an opportunity to speak out on the future of marijuana in their region.
Cannabis activists are hoping for a “Midwest Miracle” as Michigan and North Dakota grapple with whether to legalize cannabis for adult use.
Meanwhile, two other states, Utah and Missouri, look to legalize medical marijuana in other hotly contested initiatives.
Utah voters are deciding on Proposition 2, the Medical Marijuana Initiative. If passed, Prop 2 would legalize medical marijuana in the state.
Prop 2 would create a state-run distribution system that would grow and distribute cannabis for qualified patients. But there would be restrictions, such as prohibiting people from smoking the plant.
Despite the proposition’s extremely conservative approach to medical marijuana, and in spite of Prop 2’s early, enthusiastic support, recent polls show a substantial dip in approval for the medical marijuana initiative. A last-minute compromise between supporters and opponents of Prop 2, coordinated by Governor Gary Herbert, has taken the wind out of the sails of the initiative. The governor’s compromise deal promises patients some form of a medical cannabis program, regardless of whether Prop 2 passes, which has resulted in some degree of pullback in support.
But cannabis advocates have many questions about the governor’s last-ditch efforts. Of particular interest is whether his compromise program, which would be instigated through a special session of the state legislature, will be designed to serve patients. Or was it merely dangled last minute as a device to shave off support for Proposition 2 on Election Day.
Regardless of how it arrives, medical marijuana is coming to Utah. But it’s voters who will decide how they want cannabis to be regulated: by a proposition they can read and weigh whether to vote for, or to place their trust in the state legislature to craft a medical program that will meet their needs.
A yes vote on Proposition 2 will:\t
Voters in the Show-Me State are about to show America how they feel about medical marijuana. Three separate cannabis initiatives are on next month’s ballot:
Without getting too technical on these three competing initiatives, Missourians should note that two of the three measures, Amendment 2 and Amendment 3, are constitutional amendments. If they pass, like all bills, any future changes to the legislation would have to be voted on by the public.
The third measure, Proposition C, was drafted as a statutory change. This means that if passed, legislators could alter Prop C at a future date.
Amendment 2, known as New Approach Missouri, has engendered high-profile support from organizations including the NAACP, Missouri’s Chapter of NORML and the St. Louis American Newspaper.
A yes vote on Amendment 2 vote would create a state program to grow, license and regulate medical marijuana and would:
Amendment 3, backed by Find the Cures, also known as the Bradshaw Amendment, is funded almost solely by Dr. Brad Bradshaw, a Missouri lawyer and physician. Dr. Bradshaw made headlines for unsuccessfully filing lawsuits to attempt to remove the other two marijuana initiatives from the ballot.
A yes vote on Amendment 3 would allow for medical marijuana and create a medical marijuana research center headed by Dr. Bradshaw. Amendment 3 would:
Proposition C, known as The Missouri Patient Care Act, is sponsored by Missourians for Patient Care. It would allow state lawmakers, as opposed to voters, to change the program. Supporters of Prop C feel it would provide flexibility and quicker response to change.
A yes vote on Proposition C would allow the Missouri Department of Health to regulate medical marijuana alongside the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control. It would also:
To make matters more confusing, Missourians may vote for more than one of the measures. If Prop C and either one of the Amendments passes, prepare to head to the courts to determine which measure will become law. Senator Clare McCaskill is endorsing both Proposition C and Amendment 2.
Michiganders are about to cast a very significant vote, which could have resounding impacts on the cannabis industry nationwide. If passed, Proposal 1, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative would make Michigan the 10th state to legalize recreational cannabis.
A yes vote on Proposal 1 would:
North Dakota residents will be voting on one issue: Measure 3, the Marijuana Legalization and Automatic Expungement Initiative. This atypical measure, sponsored by Legalize ND has created a stir in the state. This is in part because if the measure passes, along with legalizing cannabis, prior marijuana-related convictions would be expunged. Future marijuana convictions would resemble sentences for alcohol-related offenses.
The supporters of Measure 3 have raised just a few thousand dollars, while the opponents of Measure 3 are dipping into a war chest of over $100,000. But it appears the success of this measure will be based on getting young people to the polls. Recent online polling by the Bismarck Tribune estimates that 82% of young people polled in North Dakota support the initiative.
If passed, Measure 3 would:
Photo credit: Parker Johnson
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