Marijuana-Related Ballot Initiatives and Referenda: 8/19/22 Update

Marijuana-Related Ballot Initiatives and Referenda: 8/19/22 Update

Voters in several states and in dozens of cities and towns will decide on marijuana-related ballot measures in November. Here is an update of where these efforts currently stand. (You can tune in to ask questions during our livestream discussing these items on Friday, August 19th at 12:30 pm CT on our Facebook, Youtube, Twitter or LinkedIn.)

STATEWIDE EFFORTS 

Arkansas

The group Responsible Growth Arkansas, led by former Arkansas Democratic House minority leader Eddie Armstrong, submitted more than double the signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. State officials verified that the signatures met the state’s qualification requirements. However, days later, the Board of Elections Commissioners voted to deny the measure’s proposed ballot title — opining that it does not accurately reflect the true scope of the initiative and that some elements of the proposal might be confusing to voters. 

Arkansas advocates then filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court challenging that decision. Justices have ruled that the proposal must appear on the election ballot, but they have yet to determine whether the votes will be counted. 

The proposed constitutional amendment allows adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis. Home cultivation would not be permitted, and the measure does not contain provisions to expunge past records or to provide for opportunities for social equity applicants – omissions that have draw criticism from some activists

Maryland  

Lawmakers approved legislation placing a Constitutional Amendment before voters on the question of legalizing marijuana. The measure, designated Question 4, asks: “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?”

State lawmakers also approved complementary legislation, HB 837, which defines marijuana possession limits and facilitates the automatic review and expungement of past criminal records.

If approved by voters, adults will be legally permitted to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis and/or 12 grams of cannabis concentrates beginning in July 2023. Possessing amounts between 1.5 ounces and 2.5 ounces would be subject to civil fines, while the possession of greater quantities would be subject to existing criminal penalties.

Lawmakers would still need to enact additional legislation next session to establish rules and regulations governing a legally regulated cannabis marketplace.

Missouri 

A citizens’ initiative sponsored by the group Legal Missouri 2022 seeks to allow those 21 years and older to possess, purchase, consume, and cultivate marijuana while allowing those with nonviolent marijuana-related offenses to automatically have their criminal records expunged.

If approved by a majority of voters this November, the measure will also broaden industry participation to include small business owners and disadvantaged populations, including those with limited capital, residents of high-poverty communities, service-disabled veterans, and those who have been previously convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses. Additionally, the initiative makes some improvements to the state’s existing medical marijuana access program. Read more. 

Nebraska

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) have submitted signatures supporting two separate measures for the 2022 ballot: 1.) The Medical Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which protects patients with serious health conditions and their caregivers from arrest, and 2.) The Medical Cannabis Commission Act, which regulates private businesses to provide medical cannabis to qualified patients.

In 2020, activists met the state’s signature requirement, but nonetheless had their measure struck from the ballot after the Nebraska Supreme Court issued an opinion finding that the initiative’s language violated the state’s single subject rule requirement. That is why this year’s effort is divided into two separate measures.

NMM turned in over 90,000 signatures for each of the medical cannabis legalization measures — just above the roughly 87,000 necessary to qualify them for the November ballot. Signatures are still in the process of being verified by election officials. In addition to the campaign’s slim margin, activists are also involved in a legal fight over the state’s ballot access laws.

North Dakota 

New Approach North Dakota’s ballot initiative seeks to legalize the adult use and sale of cannabis. If approved by voters this fall, the measure will allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to three plants in their homes. It will create a process for licensing retail cannabis stores, product manufacturers, testing laboratories, and other types of cannabis businesses. It directs regulators to establish rules and implement the adult-use cannabis program by October 1, 2023. Read more. 

Oklahoma 

Representatives from the New Approach PAC recently turned in over 164,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office in an effort to place a binding, statewide marijuana legalization initiative (State Question 820) on the November ballot. That total is well above the number of signatures necessary (94,911) to qualify for the 2022 ballot. Signatures are currently being verified by state election officials. 

SQ 820 allows adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six mature plants and six seedlings for personal use. The measure also provides pathways for the resentencing and/or  expunging of criminal records. Because SQ 820 does not alter the Oklahoma Constitution, fewer signatures are needed to place the measure on the November ballot.

Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt claimed that voters were misled when they previously approved medical cannabis legalization. In June, he signed legislation into law (House Bill 3208) imposing a moratorium on the issuance of any new cannabis business licenses. While campaigning for Governor, Stitt said that he personally opposed legalizing marijuana for adults and that he would campaign against it, but he also acknowledged that he would respect the will of the voters should they decide in favor of it.

South Dakota 

For the second consecutive election, voters in South Dakota will decide on a ballot measure to legalize marijuana use by those age 21 or older.

Initiated Measure 27 permits adults to possess (up to one ounce), home-cultivate (up to three mature plants), and/or transfer without remuneration limited quantities of cannabis. The measure does not seek to establish a regulatory framework governing the licensed production and retail sale of marijuana. Read more. 

LOCAL EFFORTS

Colorado: Colorado Springs

Voters in Colorado Springs (472,000) will decide this November on a pair of local ordinances. The first will determine whether or not to allow the city’s existing medical cannabis dispensaries to transition into adult-use retailers. The second asks voters to approve a five percent local tax on sales involving adult-use marijuana products.

Michigan

Voters in Lapeer (population: 8,600) will decide on a ballot measure that seeks to repeal the city’s existing marijuana regulations. If passed, it would likely shut down the city’s currently operating dispensaries. NORML opposes this effort. 

Voters in the city of Petoskey (population: 6,000) will decide on a municipal ordinance that seeks to overturn the city’s existing ban on the establishment of adult-use cannabis retail stores. If passed, it will call upon local lawmakers to “provide for standards and procedures to permit and regulate such establishments.”

Montana: Granite County

Voters in Granite County (population: 3,500) will decide on three marijuana-related initiatives. One measure, if approved, will repeal a countywide moratorium prohibiting adult-use marijuana sales within county lines. The other two measures seek to impose new local taxes on the sales of medical cannabis and adult-use marijuana products.

Ohio 

Over the better part of the past decade, voters in over two-dozen Ohio municipalities have decided in favor of local ballot measures depenalizing activities involving the personal possession of marijuana. This year, efforts by the Sensible Movement Coalition and NORML Appalachia have successfully petitioned to place questions before voters that seek to eliminate penalties for the possession of misdemeanor amounts of cannabis. Voters in the following towns will be deciding  on these ballot questions: Corning, Helena, Hemlock, Kent, Laurelville, Rushville, and Shawnee.

Rhode Island

State lawmakers legalized the adult-use marijuana market in May. The law provided localities with the ability to weigh in on whether to permit or prohibit licensed marijuana markets in their communities.

Voters in over thirty communities will decide on ballot measures on Election Day specific to allowing marijuana-related businesses to operate in their towns. Voters will decide ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the following ballot question: “Will new cannabis-related licenses be issued in (that municipality) to businesses involved in the cultivation, manufacturing, laboratory testing and retailing of adult recreational use cannabis?” Communities that vote ‘no’ will also not be eligible to receive any revenue generated from state-licensed marijuana sales. Read more. 

Texas

The only way to change marijuana laws in Texas is through the legislature, which meets every two years for approximately 140 days. However, localities have discretion for implementing first chance and/or diversion programs and more. For cities that are “home rule cities”, they can also pass any regulations or laws it deems necessary unless the state law prohibits it. Ground Game Texas is working in several home rule cities across Texas to depenalize personal cannabis possession. Earlier this year, voters in the city of Austin overwhelmingly approved a local ballot measure, Proposition A, depenalizing marijuana possession and prohibiting police from executing ‘no knock’ warrants. Read more. 

Voters in the following Texas cities will decide on municipal measures to eliminate the enforcement of low-level marijuana offenses.


Tune into NORML’s Election Central to make sure you are registered to vote and to stay informed on state and local efforts. Check out our Smoke the Vote guide to see where your  candidates stand on the issues.

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