With President Biden’s instruction to the Attorney General to begin the process of modifying the scheduling of cannabis last week, federal drug reform has been a hot topic among those working in the cannabis industry. However, the biggest change that can happen to drug reform in the next couple months is happening at the state-level with the midterm elections fast-approaching.
Interesting enough, four out of the five states determining their state’s policy on cannabis legalization are traditionally conservative. As each day passes, the marijuana movement continues to be transformed into a bipartisan campaign.
Here is an overview of the measures that voters will decide on November 8th:
Dubbed the “Land of Opportunity,” Arkansas voters will get the chance to decide whether they want to pass Issue 4 this November to allow marijuana legalization within their state’s borders. In July, leaders in the campaign “Responsible Growth Arkansas” handed in enough signatures to qualify for the initiative to be placed on the ballot.
However, it is easier said than done as the Board of Elections rejected the measure stating that the ballot language was “insufficient.” Due to this setback, the campaign filed a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court. Fortunately, in September, the court ruled in favor of the campaign to ensure that the initiative would be placed on the ballot.
Here is an overview of what Issue 4 would do for the cannabis industry in Arkansas:
- Legalize marijuana for individuals 21 years or older
- Adults could possess up to one (1) ounce of marijuana
- Licensed businesses under Arkansas’ medical marijuana program would be authorized to sell marijuana at their existing locations and establish one (1) additional location for commercial sale
- 40 licenses would be given to businesses via a lottery
- Commercial sales tax on marijuana at 10%
- 15% of the tax revenue will be provided to fund an annual stipend for all full-time law enforcement officers certified by the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training.
According to Talk Business & Politics Hendrix College, 58.5% of Arkansas voters are pro-legalization in the state, which is a small increase from the support showed in their February 2022 survey. With pluralities of every age group who support this measure, there is a positive outlook that Issue 4 will be enacted; however, there is some concern within the state as there is quite division amongst political parties who support this measure.
Register to vote in Arkansas here: https://www.sos.arkansas.gov/elections/voter-information/voter-registration-information
Home to the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland will see on November 8th whether their voters will approve of marijuana legalization at the ballot this year. In the event Question 4 is approved, it will trigger the implementation of a separate bill to begin setting up the initial regulations of the cannabis program. This is only the 2nd time a state legislature has referred a constitutional amendment proposing marijuana legalization to voters.
When Maryland voters enter the poll booths on November 8th, they will read & decide:
“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?”
In the event the “Yes on 4” campaign is successful, the complementary marijuana implementation bill will have the following details:
- Legalize marijuana for individuals 21 years or older
- Adults can legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana
- Home cultivation of up to two (2) cannabis plants beginning July 1, 2023
- Decriminalization for possession of up to 2.5 ounces
- Automatic expungement for past convictions for conduct made legal under the proposed law, as well as eligibility for resentencing for those currently serving time for such offenses
According to Washington Post – University of Maryland, more than 73% of Maryland voters favor legalizing the adult-use of cannabis for those 21 years and older. Upon voter approval, HB 837 will take effect on July 1, 2023, to allow Maryland to join the other 19 states operating a recreational marijuana program within their borders.
Register to vote in Maryland here: https://elections.maryland.gov/voter_registration/index.html
The “Show Me State” is the 3rd state on our list who is placing marijuana legalization on its November ballot. Amendment 3 is Missouri’s next step at marijuana reform since the voters approved of medical marijuana in 2018. Under Missouri’s medical marijuana program, the 4% sales tax on medical marijuana has been used to fund healthcare services for veterans. Currently, possession of ten (10) grams or less of cannabis has been decriminalized as it is only punishable by a fine.
Under Amendment 3, Missouri residents would see the following changes within their borders:
- Legalize the purchase, possession, consumption, use, delivery, manufacturing and sale of marijuana for those 21 years and older
- Home cultivation of up to six flowering marijuana plants, six immature plants and six clones if the adult obtains the proper registration card
- Imposition of a 6% sales tax on marijuana
- Tax revenue will provide funds to veteran’s healthcare programs, substance misuse treatment programs, and the state’s public defender system
- Release and/or expungement of individuals convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses
Pursuant to the surveys conducted by the Emerson College Polling and The Hill, just under half of voters – 48% approve of Amendment 3. For the past couple months, there has been a lot of back and forth on whether there will be enough votes on election day to see this Amendment approved. Some blame the Amendment’s inadequacy in addressing social equity opportunities in the industry, whereas, others blame the Amendment’s continuance of the medical marijuana program regulations that have caused a lot of controversy in its operations.
Register to vote in Missouri here: https://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/register
The well-known home to the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, North Dakota has begun its steps into entering the adult-use cannabis market with the introduction of Measure 2 on the November ballot. Led by the pro-cannabis activists, New Approach ND, North Dakota voters will get the chance to say “Yes on 2” next month to allow their state to enter a billion-dollar industry.
Detailed below are a few of the key provisions in Measure 2:
- Legalize cannabis purchases and possession of up to one (1) ounce of cannabis, four (4) grams of concentrate and flower produced from up to three (3) plants grown for personal use (so long as the cannabis is stored in the same location the plant was cultivated)
- October 1, 2023 deadline for regulators to develop regulations related to security labeling, packaging, testing, and advertising
- Maximum seven (7) cultivation licenses and eighteen (18) retailers
- 5% sales tax on cannabis products
- Prohibition on public consumption
A similarly worded poll in 2018 provides some indication on North Dakota voters’ view on whether they will vote Yes on 2. When the state voted on Measure 3 for legalization of recreational marijuana, the southwestern North Dakotans favored the Measure 60% to 40%; however, it failed at the polls by a vote of 59% to 41%. Although it is difficult to ascertain whether or not there will be enough votes, the language of the initiative will be leading the way as to whether the “Peace Garden State” will see cannabis legalization in 2023.
Voter eligibility in North Dakota here: https://vip.sos.nd.gov/PortalListDetails.aspx?ptlhPKID=79&ptlPKID=7
The “Land of Infinite Variety” will have a second chance at marijuana legalization this year as South Dakota voters faced a huge setback after their approval of it in 2020 was invalidated in court. Led by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, pro-cannabis activists exceeded the signatures required for legalization to be placed on the ballot. To avoid violating the state constitution’s single subject rule, Measure 27 omits prior provisions that dealt with taxes and regulations. After the House rejected a Senate-passed legalization bill in March, it is now up to South Dakotans to legalize marijuana within their borders.
Here are a few of the provisions Measure 27 would accomplish if approved by voters:
- Legalize the purchase and possession of up to an ounce for adults 21 years and older
- Home cultivations for adults to grow up to three (3) plants for personal use so long as they live in a jurisdiction where there is no access to a licensed marijuana retail store
- Creation of civil penalties for violating the provisions set forth in Measure 27
- Employers are still permitted to prohibit cannabis use by their workers
- State and local governments are allowed to ban marijuana businesses and activities made legal under the initiative in buildings “owned, leased, or occupied” by a governmental body
Unfortunately, a statewide poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy of Florida showed that in the past two years, support for legalization has waned in South Dakota as 43.8% of voters approve of legalization, however, 54.4% of voters oppose legalization. Hopefully, with the controversy and confusion surrounding this poll, this is not an indication of what the voters will decide on in November.
Register to vote in South Dakota here: https://sdsos.gov/elections-voting/voting/register-to-vote/default.aspx
Although cannabis legalization is a hot topic in several states now, one state is set to vote on the first-of-its-kind initiative that will legalize possession of various psychedelics, as well as create regulated psilocybin therapy centers for adults.
Colorado is once again leading the way for drug reform with Proposition 122, which would legalize possession of certain types of psychedelics for adults 21 years and older. Additionally, this measure would create “healing centers” similar to the ones being created in Oregon where psilocybin can be administered for therapeutic purposes. This is not the first time this year the “Centennial State” will see drug reform within their borders as Governor Jared Polis signed a bill in June to align state statute to legalize MDMA prescriptions if and when the federal government permits such use.
Provided below is a brief overview of the provisions in Proposition 122:
- Legalize possession, use, cultivation and sharing of psilocybin, ibogaine, mescaline (not derived from peyote), DMT and psilocyn for adults 21 years and older
- A two-tiered regulatory framework where psilocybin and psilocyn would be permitted for therapeutic uses at licensed healing centers until June 2026 – regulators would decide later on whether to permit DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline for therapeutic uses
- The Department of Regulatory Agencies would have the authority to develop rules for therapeutic psychedelic programs (i.e.) licensed “healing centers
- Creation of a fifteen (15)-member Natural Medicine Advisory Board – made-up of those with experience in scientific psychedelic medicine – to make recommendations on adding substances to the program
- Convicted individuals who have completed their sentence for an offense made legal under the measure would be able to petition the court for record sealing
The limited polling on whether Proposition 122 would be approved by the voters shows a conflicting arena for the November election. According to FOX31, Channel 2, Emerson College Polling and The Hill, show only 36% support of approving the measure. However, a poll conducted by FM3 showed an impressive 70% of support once the firm informed those surveyed what the measure would accomplish.
Register to vote in Colorado here: https://www.sos.state.co.us/voter/pages/pub/olvr/verifyNewVoter.xhtml
With drug reform making its way to the November 8th ballots, those wishing to enter the cannabis industry or those who wish to expand into further states should begin their comprehensive strategy plan with experts in the cannabis industry. If you want to discuss your options further, contact one of our Team members today at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a call so we can help you get started. Don’t forget to vote Yes on drug reform on November 8th!