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Voters In Five States To Decide Marijuana Legalization

Adult-use Cannabis could be legal in half the USA if voters in all 5 of the states with marijuana measures on ballots

Detroit Metro Times

Adult-use Cannabis could be legal in half the USA if voters in all five of the states with marijuana measures on ballots this November pass them.

Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota have measures on their ballots this year for voters to consider legalizing marijuana for adult use. They would join 19 states and the District of Columbia where adult Cannabis use is already legal, reports AP News. Tuesday, November 8, is midterm Election Day.

It’s now been a decade since Colorado and Washington voters approved adult-use marijuana. Cannabis prohibitions has fallen across the country in the 10 years since. In big, populous states like California and New York, and in smaller, rural ones like Maine and Vermont, voters flexed their political muscles.

States in the conservative Deep South have not legalized marijuana for adult use, but many have enacted medical cannabis programs. Even that barrier could be overcome if Arkansas’ Issue 4 passes next week.

Here’s a deeper dig into the states looking at legalizing adult-use Cannabis.

Arkansas: Issue 4

Issue 4 would legalize possession and create a regulated adult-use market in Arkansas. Growing marijuana would remain prohibited. Existing medical Cannabis dispensaries would get first crack at the new market with 80 adult-use shops. But 40 additional adult-use dispensaries would be licensed through a lottery.

The measure would allow adults to purchase up to an ounce of weed from licensed retailers. It would also implement a 10% sales tax on marijuana sales. Analysts predict would generate more than $460 million in tax revenue by 2027, Arkansas Business reported. 

Polls have tightened in the Natural State, as usually happens, as Election Day draws nearer.

mid-September poll by Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College indicated that almost 59% supported the measure. But that support seemingly weakened in October, amidst of onslaught of anti-marijuana TV ads. An October poll by the same company showed only 50.5% were in favor.

Opposition to Issue 4 went from 29% to 43%, with 6.5% of the voters indicating they are undecided.

Maryland: Question 4

An industry-backed campaign to legalize adult-use marijuana in Maryland launched in September. The campaign is urging voters to pick “Yes on 4,” the November ballot question about legalizing Cannabis possession for adults 21 and over.

If the measure passes, Marylanders 21 and older will be able to legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana. They will be able to legally grow two Cannabis plants, out of public view, beginning July 1, 2023. Under legislation approved by Maryland lawmakers earlier this year, the marijuana sales remain a crime.

In a poll that Baltimore Sun Media and the University of Baltimore published Monday, 63 percent of likely voters said that they plan to approve the referendum. Meanwhile, 25 percent are against the change, and 12 percent remain undecided, reports Marijuana Moment.

That’s a healthy margin for “Vote Yes On 4” campaign. And it includes majorities of Democrats (69 percent), independents/third party voters (60 percent), and even Republicans (54 percent). Retail sales would likely start in 2024 or 2025, reports CNET.

Missouri: Amendment 3

The campaign to legalize adult-use marijuana in the Show-Me State is getting big bucks from the medical marijuana industry. However, polls are showing lukewarm support for the measure, with only about 48 percent of voters indicating a Yes vote, reports Marijuana Business Daily.

Legal Missouri 2022 — the political action committee supporting a Cannabis legalization proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot as Amendment 3 — has raised nearly $700,000 in large donations since Oct. 1.  

Those with a current medical marijuana business license would be first in line to get adult-use licenses. Amendment 3 gives these firms first dibs on any lucrative adult-use retail licenses issued by the state to grow and sell Cannabis.

Amendment 3 would legalize up to three ounces of marijuana. It allows home cultivation, with a license, of six flowering plants, six immature plants, and six clones.

North Dakota: Measure 2

North Dakota voters approved a state medical marijuana program in 2016. But they handily rejected adult-use Cannabis in 2018, with 59 percent opposed.

There is very little polling information about how North Dakota voters will decide on Statutory Measure 2. It’s an initiative that would legalize marijuana use and possession in the state while also creating a regulated adult-use market.

A poll of readers of The Dickinson Press in southwest North Dakota in early September showed 39% supported the measure, with 43% opposed.

South Dakota: Measure 27

South Dakota already legalized marijuana once. That decision by the voters was invalidated by the South Dakota Supreme Court.

In 2020, South Dakota voters narrowly passed Amendment A legalizing an adult-use marijuana measure with 54% of the vote.

But in November 2021, South Dakota’s highest court struck down the voter-approved ballot initiative on technical grounds, shutting down a projected $285 million market.

Legalization advocates are back this year with Initiated Measure 27. It would legalize adult marijuana possession and home cultivation. The measure would not create a commercial Cannabis market.

Support for the measure appears weak. An Emerson College poll from mid-October shows less than 40% of South Dakota voters support the measure. Meanwhile, 51% oppose and almost 10% are undecided.

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