We have to admit that when it comes to the United States and the different state cannabis laws, it’s kinda hard to keep track. It can be difficult to remember which states have legalized medical cannabis, which states have legalized the drug for medical and recreational purposes, and which ones are making certain legalization moves.
For now, let us focus on the states that could legalize cannabis through a ballot initiative. These states are Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, and Utah.
Voters in these four states will have the chance to vote on a cannabis policy this November.
1. Michigan — Recreational Cannabis
Michigan legalized medical cannabis after voters approved a measure in 2008. But it was only in 2016 that lawmakers passed a bill that regulated the cannabis market and added protections for the public and for patients.
Now, another ballot initiative is gearing for voters’ approval. It is for the legalization of adult-use cannabis.
The initiative, made possible by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, is showing great promise, thanks to the state’s relatively long history of operating a medical cannabis industry. In fact, according to polls, 61% of voters support the measure.
2. Missouri — Medical Cannabis
Missouri’s campaign to legalize medical cannabis is complicated. That is because there are three competing ballot initiatives that were all qualified — one is drafted by New Approach Missouri, one is drafted by Find the Cures, and the other is by Missourians for Patient Care. And voters will get to vote on each one.
However, this could lead to certain complications. If supporters only vote for the one initiative that they prefer and against the other two initiatives, this could split the vote and result to none of the three passing. And if supporters vote in favor for all three, then more than one initiative could pass. If this happens, the court will need to sort out the issue to decide which one actually becomes law.
3. North Dakota — Recreational Cannabis
Legalize ND has drafted an initiative to legalize the use, sale, distribution, and possession of cannabis for adults aged 21 or older. If this initiative passes, the state would set the record for the shortest time interval between legalizing medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis.
North Dakota only legalized medical cannabis in 2016, after the ballot initiative passed with a 64% vote. The state, however, is still trying to implement this new law and patients still do not have legal cannabis accent points.
If North Dakota succeeds in adopting full legalization of the drug, it would be the most conservative state in the U.S. to do so and would therefore potentially pave the way for further red-state legalization in the future. It would also provide Republicans the political cover to finally come out and speak in favor of cannabis reform.
4. Utah — Medical Cannabis
The Utah Patients Coalition has succeeded in qualifying a ballot initiative that would allow patients suffering from certain conditions to access medical cannabis. The initiative fits the state’s conservative politics in that it is not as broad as the medical cannabis laws of other states. For one, smoking cannabis would not be allowed and patients would have to rely on other methods of administering the drug.
According to polls, the initiative has a healthy lead with more than 70% support.
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So far, these are the only confirmed states with cannabis policy measures for November’s ballot. There are still activists and cannabis advocates in other states who are working to qualify their initiatives.
Oklahoma, for one, has a group of organizers that have been gathering signatures to get a recreational cannabis measure on the ballot. However, they did not meet the number of signatures required to qualify.
If ballot initiatives in all of these four states succeed, the U.S. will end the year with 32 states with legal medical cannabis and 11 states with legal recreational cannabis.