American voters will be heading to the polls next month. However, they won’t just be voting for their next elected senators, representatives, governors, and other officials.
Voters in seven states will also be voting on far-reaching cannabis ballot initiatives. For some states, the ballot initiative concerns allowing the use of cannabis for medical purposes, while for some, it is allowing the full of legalization of the drug (recreational marijuana). For one state, the initiative is about the definition of hemp.
Some initiatives are statewide marijuana measures, while others are local legislative measures. Some are statutory changes, while others are constitutional amendments.
All in all, there are 36 separate major marijuana reform initiatives that have been put on the ballot across seven states.
Which states are these, and what are these marijuana ballot measures?
Let’s focus on the five states with proposed statewide measures.
The question voters will be voting on is whether the Colorado constitution should be amended to reflect a change in the definition of industrial hemp from having a constitutional meaning to a statutory meaning.
The cannabis ballot measure is for the legalization of recreational cannabis.
Voters will vote on a proposed law authorizing and legalizing the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana products by individuals 21 years old and above, and the commercial sales of these products through state-licensed retailers.
More specifically, this proposal would:
- allow individuals 21 and older to buy, use, and possess cannabis and cannabis-infused edibles, and to grow as many as 12 cannabis plants for purposes of personal consumption.
- create a state licensing system for marijuana businesses and allow the municipalities to restrict or ban them.
- impose a 10-ounce limit for marijuana kept at private residences and require marijuana exceeding 2.5 ounces to be secured in locked containers.
- permit the retail sales of cannabis products and edibles subject to a 10 percent tax, which will go to implementation costs, clinical trials, municipalities, roads, and schools.
- change several current cannabis-related violations from having a criminal status to mere civil infractions.
3. North Dakota
This initiated measure in North Dakota would amend the state’s Century Code by removing marijuana, hashish, and tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) from the Schedule I Controlled Substances list in Section 19-03.1-05. Chapter 66-01 will be created instead.
The new chapter would define the terms marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia and prohibit any individual over the age of 21 from being prosecuted for any non-violent cannabis-related activity (including the growing, manufacturing, selling, distributing, or testing weed).
Any language in the Century Code that conflicts with chapter 66-01 will be nullified and repealed. The measure would also add penalties for individuals below 21 years old caught in possession of, or attempting to sell and distribute, cannabis. Penalties will also be given to individuals who distribute cannabis to anyone under 21 -one.
Moreover, the proposed measure will amend the definition of drug paraphernalia to apply only to non-cannabis controlled substances. It would also amend Section 25-03.1-45 to provide for the automatic expungement of any individual’s criminal record associated with a drug conviction for a legalized controlled substance.
What’s more, an appeals process will also be created so individuals who believe that the state did not expunge their records properly can appeal their case. This appeals process will also eliminate the state’s sovereign immunity for damages that result from the expungement lawsuits.
There are three separate statewide ballot measures for Missouri.
Ballot measure 1:
One ballot measure focuses on the amendment of the Missouri Constitution so as to:
- allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and to create regulations and licensing or certification procedures related to cannabis and cannabis facilities;
- impose a 4% tax on the retail sale of cannabis; and
- use the funds from cannabis taxes on healthcare services for military veterans, care of the Missouri Veterans Commission, and to administer the program to license, certify, and regulate cannabis and cannabis facilities.
This particular proposal is projected to generate $18 million in annual taxes and fees for state veterans programs and operating costs, and of $6 million for local governments. The state’s annual operating costs are estimated at $7 million.
Ballot measure 2:
A separate measure proposes to amend the Missouri Constitution to legalize medical cannabis, but with slightly different tax figures. More specifically, the proposed amendment would:
- allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes and to create licensing procedures and regulations for cannabis and cannabis facilities;
- impose a 15% tax on the retail sale of cannabis, as well as a tax on the wholesale sale of cannabis flowers and leaves per dry-weight ounce to licensed facilities; and
- use the funds from these cannabis taxes to fund and build a research institute that will study and develop cures and treatments for cancer and other incurable medical conditions.
This proposal is projected to generate $66 million in annual taxes and fees. State governmental entities estimate initial implementation costs of $186,000 and increased annual operating costs of $500,000.
Ballot measure 3:
This measure proposes the amendment of Missouri law to:
- remove prohibitions on the possession and personal use of medical cannabis provided that there is a written certification by a medical professional;
- remove prohibitions on the growth, production, sale, and possession of medical cannabis by licensed and regulated facilities;
- collect a 2% tax on the retail sale of medical cannabis; and
- use the tax funds for veterans’ services, early childhood education, drug treatment, and public safety in localities with a medical cannabis facility.
Under this measure, there is an estimated initial one-time cost of $2.6 million, annual costs of $10 million, and annual revenues of at least $10 million. Local governments estimate no annual costs and are expected to have at least $152,000 in annual revenues.
Utah’s ballot measure is centered on medical cannabis. More specifically, it proposes that a law be enacted to:
- establish a state-controlled process allowing patients with certain medical conditions to access and use medical cannabis and to grow, in certain limited circumstances, up to six marijuana plants for personal medical use;
- establish facilities that grow, test, process, or sell medical cannabis; and
- establish state controls on licensed facilities, including electronic cannabis inventory and purchases tracking system.