Election 2020: Cannabis on the Ballot in 5 States

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Voters in four states will decide whether to legalize adult-use cannabis this election season, while individuals in a fifth state — Mississippi — will be given the opportunity to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

All eyes will be on Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota, where voters will choose whether to legalize and tax recreational cannabis. A separate medical marijuana initiative is also on the ballot in South Dakota.

If the four adult-use measures are approved, 15 U.S. states (and Washington D.C.) will have established regulated cannabis markets and approximately one-third of Americans will have access to recreational marijuana.

THCnet has prepared a voter guide that contains important information about the 2020 ballot initiatives and includes links to resources with in-depth information on each measure.

Here’s what you need to know before heading to the polls on November 3.

Arizona

What’s on the ballot?

Arizona residents are voting on Proposition 207, known as the “Smart and Safe Act,” which proponents argue would eventually generate $300 million in tax revenue.

What’s at stake?

A “yes” vote would legalize the sale, possession (up to 1 oz.) and use of cannabis for adults (21+). A commercial cannabis market that could reach $1 billion in sales during the fourth year of legalization would be established, and residents would also be permitted to cultivate up to six plants for personal use.

A no vote would keep possession and use of recreational marijuana illegal but maintain Arizona’s existing medical market.

Who will regulate the industry?

Under Prop 207, the Arizona Department of Health Services would oversee the issuance of licenses and be tasked with regulating the production, testing, labeling, distribution, and sale of cannabis products.

What will taxes look like?

If approved, a 16% tax on all recreational cannabis products would be applied. That tax would be in addition to the state’s existing 5.6% sales tax.

Where will tax dollars go?

Under Prop 207, one-third of the funds will be distributed to community college districts for the purposes of investing in workforce development initiatives, job training and other programs.

Another 31.4% of tax revenue will be allocated for municipal police, fire and sheriffs’ departments, while 25.4% will be put toward a highway fund and 10% will be set aside for justice reinvestment projects.

According to Smart and Safe Arizona, millions of dollars will be put toward addiction prevention, substance abuse treatment, suicide prevention, and mental health programs.

Will records be expunged?

The bill allows individuals who were previously convicted of possessing 2.5 oz. or less of marijuana to petition a court for expungement beginning on July 12, 2021.

How are voters leaning?

A recent poll from OH Predictive Insights indicates that 55% of likely voters support Prop 207, while 37% oppose the measure. Another 7% are still undecided.

Where can I learn more?

One of the most comprehensive resources is Ballotpedia, which provides an overview of how Prop 207 would alter current cannabis policies in Arizona. Arguments from both proponents and opponents are also included, and full text of the proposal is available.

Additional information on Prop 207 is available from NORML, New Frontier Data, Smart and Safe Arizona and Leafly.

Montana

What’s on the ballot?

Montana residents are voting on two adult-use cannabis measures: Initiative 190 and Constitutional Initiative 118.

What’s at stake?

A “yes” vote on I-190 would legalize and tax recreational cannabis products for adults (21+). In addition to Montana’s existing medical marijuana market, a commercial adult-use market that would add a projected $48 million to state coffers by 2025 would be established.

Meanwhile, a “yes” vote on CI-118 would set the legal minimum age for purchasing, consuming and possessing marijuana at 21.

No votes on both measures would keep possession and use of recreational marijuana illegal but maintain Montana’s existing medical market.

According to New Frontier Data, annual sales of adult-use cannabis in Montana could reach $175 million during the fourth year of legalization.

Who will regulate the industry?

Under I-190, the Montana Department of Revenue will “license and regulate the cultivation, transportation, and sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products.” The DOR would also be tasked with inspecting “premises where marijuana is cultivated and sold.”

What will taxes look like?

If approved, adult-use cannabis and cannabis-infused products would be taxed at 20%.

Where will tax dollars go?

Under I-190, nearly 50% of the funds would be used to support Montana’s wildlife, parks and recreation activities. Another 10.5% would be earmarked for the state general fund, and the remaining 40% would be equally split between accounts supporting drug addiction treatment, marijuana regulation, veterans programs and Medicaid.

Will records be expunged?

The bill allows individuals who are currently serving sentences for acts that are permitted under the proposal to petition for an expungement or resentencing.

How are voters leaning?

According to Marijuana Moment, recent polling shows that 49% of likely voters are in favor of reforming Montana’s cannabis laws, while 39% will vote "no" on legalization.

Where can I learn more?

Ballotpedia has a complete breakdown, including arguments for and against I-190 as well as full text of the proposal. You can also learn more about CI-118 on Ballotpedia. 

The Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, and New Frontier Data have additional information. Leafly also has an in-depth breakdown.

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New Jersey

What’s on the ballot?

Garden State residents will have the opportunity to approve adult-use cannabis sales via Question 1, known as the New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Amendment.

What’s at stake?

A “yes” vote on Question 1 would legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adults (21+) to use. It would create a regulated commercial market, and enable the cultivation, processing and sale of recreational cannabis products. According to New Frontier Data, annual sales of adult-use cannabis in New Jersey could reach $1.8 billion during the fourth year of legalization.

A “no” vote on Question 1 would oppose legalization, keeping recreational cannabis illegal but maintaining the state’s existing medical marijuana program.

Who will regulate the industry?

According to a text of the ballot question, “the state commission created to oversee the state’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market.”

What will taxes look like?

If approved, adult-use cannabis and cannabis-infused products would carry the state’s current 6.625% sales tax. The state legislature would also be authorized to allow local municipalities to implement an additional 2% sales tax. Cannabis-specific sales taxes would be prohibited.

Will records be expunged?

According to Leafly, an “online portal” would be created that allows “individuals with marijuana convictions (possession charges of up to five pounds) to expedite expungements.”

The amendment also requires pending possession charges to be downgraded or dismissed.

How are voters leaning?

Roughly two-thirds of New Jersey residents support a constitutional amendment. According to Marijuana Moment, a new poll from law firm Brach Eichler LLC indicates that 65% of Garden State resident support legalization. Only 29% are opposed, while 6% remain undecided.

Meanwhile, a recent Stockton University poll showed similarly strong support: 66% of voters said they would support Question 1, while just 23% opposed adult-use legalization.

Where can I learn more?

Ballotpedia and Leafly have in-depth looks at the referendum.

NJ Can 2020, a coalition including pro-cannabis groups and civil rights organizations, among others, has actively campaigned for the passage of Question 1 and has additional information on its website.

NORML also discusses Question 1 in its election guide

South Dakota

What’s on the ballot?

South Dakota is the first state to vote for both medical and recreational cannabis initiatives on the same ballot.

Constitutional Amendment A would “legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana,” and require the state Legislature to “pass laws regarding hemp as well as laws ensuring access to marijuana for medical use.”

Meanwhile, Measure 26 would legalize medical marijuana sales.

What’s at stake?

A “yes” vote on Amendment A would legalize the possession and use of adult-use cannabis and create a regulated commercial market. According to New Frontier Data, annual sales of adult-use cannabis in South Dakota could reach $20.6 million during the fourth year of legalization.

Additionally, a “yes” vote on Measure 26 would establish a medical marijuana program and allow those with debilitating medical conditions — as certified by a physician — to possess up to 3 oz. of cannabis.

No votes on both measures would mean recreational and medical cannabis would remain illegal.

Who will regulate the industry?

Under Amendment A, the South Dakota Department of Revenue will be tasked with issuing licenses to “commercial cultivators and manufacturers, testing facilities, wholesalers and retailers.”

Under Measure 26, the Department of Health would oversee the state’s medical marijuana program.

What will taxes look like?

If approved, adult-use cannabis would be taxed at 15%. 

Where will tax dollars go?

Amendment A proposes that tax revenue first be used to support the costs of implementing a regulated cannabis market. 50% of the remaining funds will then be used to support South Dakota’s public schooling system, and the other half will be directed to the state’s general fund.

The South Dakota Legislative Research Council estimates that Amendment A will generate $60 million in tax revenue by 2024

Will records be expunged?

Neither bill appears to address expungement.

How are voters leaning?

According to NORML, opposition polling conducted in late June found that approximately 60% of voters support Amendment A, while roughly 70% are in favor of Measure 26.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle recently endorsed both Amendment A and Measure 26, saying that his viewpoint of marijuana has “vastly evolved” over the years.

“Legalizing marijuana for adults would substantially drive economic growth in South Dakota, creating new businesses and new jobs, as well as generating tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue,” he said.

Where can I learn more?

There’s more information on Amendment A and Measure 26 available on Ballotpedia.

The Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, and South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws have additional details on the two proposals.

Mississippi

What’s on the ballot?

Mississippi voters will choose between two initiatives that would legalize medical marijuana.

What’s at stake?

Initiative 65, a citizen-backed proposal, would establish a state-licensed medical marijuana program for qualifying patients.

Alternative 65A also establishes a medical marijuana program that is more restrictive than what is proposed under Initiative 65.

Under the much broader Initiative 65 proposal, medical cannabis could be used to treat more than 20 qualifying conditions. Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to smoke cannabis and possess up to 2.5 ounces.

Meanwhile, Alternative 65A, proposed by the state legislature, is less defined. However, it does specify that only terminally ill patients would be allowed to smoke marijuana.

According to New Frontier Data, annual sales of medical cannabis in Mississippi could reach $66 million during the fourth year of legalization.

What will taxes look like?

Under Initiative 65, medical marijuana would carry the state’s 7% sales tax. No tax rate has been specified for Alternative 65A.

How are voters leaning?

According to FM3 Research, 81% of Mississippi voters support the use of medical marijuana for serious illnesses.

As of June, 52% of likely voters are backing Initiative 65, while just 23% are backing Alternative 65A. According to FM3, 5% of voters are in favor of both Initiative 65 and Alternative 65A, while only 6% of voters do not approve of either proposal and 15% are undecided.

Where can I learn more?

Ballotpedia, NORML, Leafly and New Frontier Data have additional information.


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