It’s that special time again, when voters head to the polls to determine who will staff their local, state, and federal governments. This time around though, many voters will also make big decisions about adult use cannabis legalization. That is outstanding all the way around, win or lose.
Ten years ago, only two states, Washington and Colorado, had adult use cannabis legalization on the ballot. Voters there wisely ushered in a complete change of culture and legal reform around adult use cannabis legalization that’s still felt to this day around the United States.
Adult Use Cannabis Legalization in 2022
So, what’s on various ballots this time and where? We previously wrote about the adult use initiatives back in August. Below is an updated summary of what’ll be voted on tomorrow.
Residents of The Natural State will vote on Issue 4. Issue 4 is an amendment to the state’s constitution that would legalize adult use cannabis. According to the 2022 Voter Guide put together by the University of Arkansas, an affirmative vote for Issue 4 means that you’re in favor of legalization and also
giving existing medical marijuana growers and sellers licenses to grow and sell adult use or non-medical marijuana; authorizing 12 additional cultivation licenses and 40 dispensary licenses for adult use marijuana; eliminating an existing sales tax on medical marijuana and introducing a sales tax on adult use marijuana; eliminating a cap on how much THC can be in medical marijuana-infused drinks and food portions; making clear that lawmakers have no authority to change the amendment without another vote of the people; and changing rules for businesses licensed to grow and sell marijuana in Arkansas.
You can read the entirety of the initiative here. Some of the highlights of the initiative include:
the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the Department of Finance and Administration would be in charge of regulation, licensing, and oversight;
cultivation facilities are split into Tier One (appears to have no plant limit yet) and Tier Two (limited to 250 plants);
beginning in March 2023, existing medical cannabis businesses will be able to sell their existing inventory into the adult use market;
existing medical cannabis businesses get grandfathered into the new adult use market by or before March 2023; after that, a limited number of cultivation and dispensary licensed will be issued by lottery; and
no individual or entity may have an ownership interest in more than 18 adult use dispensaries.
In Maryland, voters will be presented with the option of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in response to Question 4, which is “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?”.
Medical cannabis is already legal and regulated in Maryland. Question 4 would amend the state’s constitution to add adult use cannabis legalization, and would also enable the existing Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission, among other state agencies, to study and create the regulatory and taxation framework in which licensees would operate.
The legislature already passed related legislation this year via House Bill 837, and if the answer to Question 4 is yes, certain parts of that bill will take effect. For a good breakdown of HB 837, check out the Marijuana Policy Project summary here.
Amendment 3 is the adult use cannabis legalization measure in Missouri. Medical cannabis is already legal in Missouri as of 2018.
Voters will have a lot to consider when reading the 30+ page constitutional amendment. It covers everything from the proposed licensing system to very specific barriers to entry to taxation. Highlights include:
personal home grows would be allowed under certain circumstances;
local control by vote is allowed; and
a lottery process would be put in place for a limited number of operational licenses, equally divied up between congressional districts.
If Statutory Measure 2 passes, North Dakota will have adult use cannabis legalization controlled by its Department of Health and Human Services. Licensing and sales would need to kick off by October 1 of next year. Home grows would also be allowed for up to three plants.
Rather than going with a lottery system for licensees, the state will have an open application period. And the industry is going to be small to start–there will not be more than 7 adult use manufacturing businesses (i.e., cultivating and manufacturing) and no more than 18 dispensaries.
Further, an individual or an organization may not hold an ownership interest in: more than one manufacturing facility, more than four dispensaries (including more than one dispensary within a twenty-mile radius of another dispensary). And a manufacturing facility and dispensary may not enter an agreement under which a dispensary agrees to limit purchases or sales of adult-use cannabis products to one manufacturing facility.
In addition to a slew of other limitations and restrictions, it sounds like Statutory Measure 2 would give North Dakota a robustly regulated adult use cannabis industry (not unlike Washington State, for example, without the residency requirement). Needless to say, North Dakota has come a very long way on cannabis in general.
Voters will be considering Measure 27 today. This one is a little bizarre in my opinion because all it does is legalize limited amounts for possession and tiny personal grows under certain circumstances and has no path for commercial licensing or even setting up a licensing system. Nothing to laugh at, but it’s definitely not a comprehensive legalization measure.
Oddly enough, voters approved adult use cannabis legalization back in 2020, but the law was later overturned in litigation. The state already legalized medical cannabis back in 2020 and does have licensed businesses in play.
If all five states vote in favor of adult use cannabis legalization, that will bring the tally up to 24 adult use cannabis states. We’ll be sure to cover the results of these ballot initiatives as the vote counts return. Stay tuned!
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