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Nearly a Quarter of Americans Could Be Voting on Marijuana Reform this Fall

Voters in up to a dozen states could decide on recreational or medical marijuana ballot initiatives this November. It appears that voters in quite a few states will be heading to their respective state polls to decide whether or not to approve medical or recreational marijuana initiatives within their state. Several states have already qualified or have collected the necessary signatures but are facing hiccups. In other states, campaigns are still furiously collecting signatures from registered voters in an effort to quality their recreational or medical marijuana initiatives for the ballot. In all four states where recreational marijuana is already legal – Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska – legalization was the result of the initiative process rather than through the legislature. By the end of 2016, the total number of states that have legalized marijuana measures through the voting process could be 16. Here’s a look at the states that will definitely have marijuana ballot initiatives, the states that are facing challenges but still expected to qualify their measures, and the states where signatures are still being collected.

States That Will Definitely Have Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

California

After several marijuana legalization initiatives were proposed and circulated in California, strong financial backing and notable endorsements helped the Adult Use of Marijuana Use Act step out as the clear leader. Support campaigns Let’s Get it Right California! and Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana while Protecting Children were able to collect 600,000 signatures when only 365,880 signatures were required to be qualified for the ballot. If voters approve the act, adults aged 21 and older will be allowed to possess marijuana and grow small amounts at home for personal use. The marijuana market will be tracked, controlled, regulated, and taxed, with revenues being allocated to teen drug prevention and treatment, law enforcement training, environment protection efforts, and economic development in communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition. Chances are looking good that California voters will approve the marijuana initiative. A May 2016 poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 60 percent of likely California voters favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Nevada

Nevada was the first state to guarantee that a recreational marijuana measure would be included on this November’s ballot. The Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana, also commonly called Question 2, was approved for the ballot last November after the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted approximately 200,000 signatures (101,666 were required). Under the proposed legislation, adults over the age of 21 will be legally allowed to possess one ounce or less of cannabis for recreational purposes. An excise tax of 15 percent will be applied, and money will be used to support Nevada’s K-12 education budget. No recent polls have been done to indicate the level of support from Nevada voters, but the state’s successful medical marijuana industry is an indication that Question 2 will likely be approved.

Florida

Voters in Florida will have another chance to approve a medical marijuana initiative this November after campaigners collected just shy of 700,000 signatures by January. A previous medical marijuana amendment barely failed in 2014, as it received just 57.6 percent of the required 60 percent “yes” votes necessary to amend the state’s constitution. This year, voters will consider the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, or Amendment 2. If the initiative were approved, Florida patients with “debilitating” medical conditions with a doctor’s recommendation would have legal access to marijuana. The Florida Department of Health would issue ID cards to eligible patients and regulate marijuana production and growing. A March 2016 survey from Public Policy Polling found that 65 percent of voters say they’ll vote for the initiative this fall, compared to 28 percent who are opposed. Like previously, the amendment will need to receive 60 percent “yes” votes to pass.

Maine

A recreational marijuana initiative nearly didn’t make it on the ballot when in March Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office determined that 17,000 of the signatures provided by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol were invalid because of a discrepancy involving a notary’s signature. Soon after, however, a judge reversed Dunlap’s decision after the pro-legalization group appealed and now the initiative will be presented to Maine voters in November. The proposed initiative would allow people 21 years or older to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for recreational use and feature an excise tax of 10 percent on all sales. A May 2016 poll from Critical Insights has found that 55 percent of Mainers support legalizing marijuana, compared to 41 percent who are either leaning or definitely against the legislation.

Missouri

Campaign group New Approach Missouri, made up of patients, veterans, law enforcement, and medical professionals, turned in more than 260,000 signatures (167,000 were required) to place a medical marijuana ballot initiative on the November ballot. The initiative would allow patients whose physicians certify in writing that they have a legitimate medical need to use medical marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Access would be given to patients who suffer from cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and other serious or debilitating medical conditions. Medical marijuana sales would be taxed at 4 percent.

States Likely To Have Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

Michigan

Campaign group MILegalize is taking legal action against the state of Michigan after the Bureau of Elections rejected its petition to be included on the November ballot. The campaign had recently collected and submitted an additional 100,000 signatures to add to their 254,000 signatures already submitted. However, the group was notified by the Bureau of Elections that it was nearly 106,000 signatures short of the required 252,523 signatures to qualify, claiming the additional signatures were submitted too late. Campaign leaders, including MILegalize Chairman Jeffrey Hank, say they plan to keep fighting and argue that the recently approved 180-day limit for statewide campaigns to gather signatures shouldn’t apply since it was just recently signed into law. The campaign’s proposed initiative would legalize and regulate marijuana and hemp for adults over 21 years of age. An excise tax of 10 percent would be applied, with proceeds going to the Department of Transportation and a school aid fund. A majority of Michigan residents support legalizing recreational marijuana, according to an EPIC-MRA poll from March that found that 53 percent would approve a marijuana ballot measure.

Massachusetts

Despite the Act to Regulate Marijuana initiative collecting enough signatures to be included on this fall’s ballot in Massachusetts, a lawsuit from a group of citizens opposed to the legislation threaten its future. The state’s highest court has heard challenges from the group, which claims that the proposed ballot question is misleading because it doesn’t clarify all the types of cannabis products that would be legalized. The court will rule on the challenge, but CBS Boston expects that the marijuana ballot question will be presented to voters in November. The initiative would allow retail dispensaries to sell marijuana to adults over the age of 21 in towns that allow them. Additionally, adults would be allowed to grow marijuana in their homes for personal use. A state marijuana control board and advisory committee would be established to regulate sales and a state sales tax would be applied. Massachusetts’ voters appear to be split on support for the marijuana initiative. A Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll from May found that 43 percent of voters are in support of the ballot initiative, while 45.8 percent oppose the measure.

States Still Collecting Signatures

Arizona Arizona’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has collected 215,000 signatures (150,000 required) but retains the goal of acquiring 230,000 by the July 7 deadline. Initiative 5 would allow adults 21 years of age or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and gives permission to grow up to six marijuana plants. Arkansas Voters in Arkansas may see three separate marijuana ballot initiatives on their November ballot. The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act would amend the state constitution to allow doctors to recommend marijuana for 56 qualifying conditions. An alternative measure, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, would allow doctors to recommend marijuana for 15 qualifying conditions. The third proposal, the Arkansas Cannabis Amendment, would legalize cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana for recreational use. All three initiatives are still collecting signatures. Montana A campaign to legalize adult use marijuana in Montana is still gathering the 48,349 necessary valid signatures before the June 17 deadline to qualify for the November ballot. The Marijuana Legalization Initiative proposes to allow adults to possess, consume, and purchase marijuana. North Dakota A petition for a proposed ballot measure that would legalize medical marijuana is still collecting the necessary 13,452 signatures of eligible voters by July 11. Oklahoma Oklahomans for Health is still collecting signatures for a proposal to legalize medical marijuana. The group has until August to collect 66,000 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot.]]>

Post by Jeffrey Stamberger

Jeffrey writes media content covering the latest in news, medical research, policy changes, and product education from the cannabis industry.

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