Cannabis Issues on the Mid-Term Ballot

On Tuesday, a number of states will be voting on marijuana-related ballot measures. Here in Colorado, we are no strangers to cannabis-related ballot initiatives. Some towns are voting on such initiatives this year and we are likely to see more in the future. Let’s take a look at what’s on the ballot for marijuana in 2022.

Proposed New Marijuana Laws on the Ballot in Colorado and Beyond

On Tuesday, voters in five different states will be casting their ballots on whether or not to legalize marijuana use for adults. A sixth state, Oklahoma, also has such a measure on the ballot in a special election next March.

If voters approve these five new measures, approximately half of all US residents will live in a state where the possession and use of cannabis are legal for adults. As it stands before the election, 19 states have already legalized marijuana, making up 44 percent of the population. Here’s what voters are deciding on:

Legalization and Recreational Retail Regulation

Arkansas

If this amendment passes, anyone 21 or older will be legally allowed to purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis. However, home cultivation would not be permitted under the measure. Also, there are no provisions contained in the amendment that would expunge past records or provide for social equity opportunities in the industry–something that reform advocates favor.

The proposed measure would also amend the state’s previous medical cannabis program- approved by voters in 2016. The residency requirements to qualify as a patient would be done away with if this measure is passed.

North Dakota

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Measure 2 would make it legal for adults 21 and older to use, possess, and grow cannabis. If a majority of voters approve the measure, individuals will be able to have up to one ounce of cannabis as well as cultivate three plants in their homes. The bill also establishes retail cannabis stores, product manufacturers, testing laboratories, and other types of businesses related to cannabis. It also directs state regulators to establish rules and implement the adult-use cannabis program by October 1, 2023.

Oklahoma (special election in March 2023)

State Question 820 would make cannabis legal for anyone 21 years or older. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would oversee any businesses related to marijuana. The initiative would also allow people with certain previous marijuana-related convictions to apply to have those records either erased or modified.

Legalization Without Recreational Retail Regulation

Maryland

The following question will be asked on Maryland’s ballot, otherwise known as Question 4: “Do you favor the legalization of the use of cannabis by an individual who is at least 21 years of age on or after July 1, 2023, in the State of Maryland?”

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State lawmakers have already approved legislation that not only defines marijuana possession limits but also makes it easier for people to clear their past criminal records.

Missouri

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The group Legal Missouri 2022 is sponsoring a citizens’ initiative (Amendment 3) that, if passed, would let people 21 and older use, buy, grow, and possess marijuana. It would also clear the criminal records of people convicted of nonviolent offenses related to marijuana.

The proposed measure not only seeks to broaden industry participation to include small business owners and disadvantaged populations but also makes some improvements to the state’s existing medical marijuana access program. Those with limited capital, residents of high-poverty communities, service-disabled veterans, and those who have been previously convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses would all be included if this initiative passes.

South Dakota

For the second election in a row, voters in South Dakota will get to choose whether or not to legalize marijuana use for adults aged 21 and over.

Measure 27, if passed, would allow adults to hold (up to one ounce), grow at home (up to three mature plants), and/or transfer without payment limited amounts of cannabis. The measure does not attempt to set up a regulatory framework governing the licensed production and retail sale of marijuana.

Cannabis Measures in Colorado

There are also a few municipalities in our state that have marijuana on the ballot this year.

Colorado Springs

Two local ordinances will be put to a vote in Colorado Springs. The first is whether city dispensaries that currently only sell medical cannabis should be allowed to also sell recreational marijuana. The second ordinance, if approved, would impose a 5% sales tax on all transactions involving adult-use marijuana products.

Lamar

While the national trend is towards more leniency on cannabis, Lamar is voting on whether to tighten the vice. Ballot Question 300 seeks to reaffirm and strengthen an existing local ban on retailers and also limit local possession limits to below the amount permitted by state law.

Cripple Creek

The citizens of Cripple Creek will be voting on an ordinance that would allow licensed marijuana retailers to operate in the city.

The Last Toke

As the arc of cannabis continues to bend toward legalization, it will certainly not be long until the federal government catches up with the will of the people. Bills have already been introduced in both the House and Senate that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Could 2023 be the year? Certainly, that will depend in large part on the results of the congressional elections.

In the meantime, be sure to check your state’s ballot this year to see if there are any cannabis-related measures up for a vote. It is always important to make your voice heard on these issues, especially as more and more states move to legalize marijuana use. And stay tuned to the Frost Cannabis blog for updates on the latest cannabis news and issues.

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