These Four States Vote on Cannabis Legalization Tomorrow
Tomorrow is Election Day in America and the stakes surrounding the results of races for the Senate and Congress all the way down to your local representatives couldn’t be higher.
Voting is a fundamental right of being an American, and your vote absolutely matters.
All politics is local, whether you want to pay attention or not, it will affect you. In California alone, voters in 10 counties and 58 municipalities will decide on 82 cannabis-related measures related to how their own local leaders will implement cannabis legalization. It is these anti-marijuana local governments that have hamstrung the progress of the legal cannabis movement and the voice of the people – your voice - is the only way to make them see the light.
The momentum of marijuana legalization that is surging across the country cannot be denied. Currently, medical use of cannabis is legal in 31 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.
The recreational use of cannabis is legal in 9 states - Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, along with Washington D.C., and the Northern Mariana Islands.
In many of our nation’s largest cities, decriminalization, criminal record expungement, and social equity programs have finally become a reality in place of Stop & Frisk and Reefer Madness.
Tomorrow, voters in Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, and Utah will look to add their states to the lists above, joining the growing majority of the country that has seen what can happen when cannabis advocates hit their voting booth as hard as they hit their bong.
Here’s a quick recap of what each state has on the line tomorrow.
MICHIGAN – Medical use since 2008, now seeking adult/recreational use
Michigan has a deep, rich, and proud cannabis culture that was thriving long before the state’s implementation of their highly successful medical marijuana program way back in November of 2008.
At that time, voters just like you swarmed the polls and crushed the opposition with well over 3 million ballots cast in favor of cannabis, leading to a 63% landslide victory.
You can learn more about current medical cannabis laws in Michigan in our Cannabis Laws Road Trip series from earlier this year, but here is what is being proposed now in 2018 as the state looks to become the 10th in the nation to legalize adult use.
Proposal 1 on tomorrow’s ballot will ask Michigan voters if they want to allow the adult use of cannabis for anyone over the age of 21.
If passed, the state will use a “Treat Cannabis like Alcohol” playbook to implement the new law, beginning with the aforementioned age restriction. The state will then create a licensing system for producers and retailers to adhere to, and will collect a proposed 10% excise tax on all retail transactions.
Michigan residents over the age of 21 will also be entitled to grow up to 12 plants of their own at home – this is an essential part of protecting craft cannabis. Though, the law will restrict possession, even in one’s own home, to just 10 ounces. Additionally, any amount over 2.5 ounces must be in a locked container. We’re not sure how this will jive when harvesting 12 healthy plants. Adults over the age of 21 can also have up to 2.5 ounces on them at a time while in transit without fear of prosecution for it.
The new law is still flawed.
Even though 10% or more of drug arrests in Michigan are for low level cannabis crimes, Prop 1 does nothing to retroactively address those who have had their criminal records, and many aspects of day-to-day life, impacted by the failed War on Weed. Expungement is not in the language of the law…yet. But as we see in California, further pressure by voters can lead to much needed changes to existing laws.
As for the state’s gubernatorial race, two of the three candidates endorse Prop 1. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer and Libertarian Bill Gelineau have expressed their support for the proposed law change, but Republican candidate Bill Schuette disapproves of legalizing recreational marijuana.
You know what to do, Michigan!
MISSOURI – Seeking to implement the state’s first medical marijuana program
Missouri has, by far, the most complicated situation of the four states covered in this article. Three competing cannabis initiatives have made it to the ballot for tomorrow’s vote, and so far the only thing getting higher is the confusion level.
Here is how they break down:
Of the three ballot measures, this is the only one that will allow valid medical marijuana patients to grow up to six plants. If passed, the state will require registration and a $100 annual permit for each of these grows. These grows will have to be in a registered facility as well, so the promise of “home grown weed” does not apply here.
Patients would NOT be allowed to extract cannabis oils from their own harvest, however, so the most potent and useful form of cannabis medication would only be available at full retail price from a licensed dispensary.
Additionally, only patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, chronic pain, PTSD and Parkinson's would be eligible for the program.
This proposal includes a 4% sales tax on all retail cannabis sales, a portion of which would be set aside for “veterans programs”.
Patients would be allowed to purchase up to 4 ounces of dried flower every 30 days.
Also known as the Bradshaw Amendment, A3 would essentially place the entire Missouri medical marijuana program in the hands of a 9-person research committee led by Springfield attorney and physician, Brad Bradshaw.
Amendment 3 proposes a whopping 15% retail sales tax on all cannabis transactions, and estimates a windfall of $66 million in weed-related revenues after just one year of operation.
Bradshaw plans to use the lion’s share of that cash to fund a state-of-the-art cancer research facility with a pledge to cure the disease once and for all.
A3 would allow patients to purchase up to 3 ounces of dried flower every 30 days but DOES NOT allow for any personal, caregiver, or home growing.
A3 would also allow entire counties to apply for a 5-year exclusion which would almost certainly create massive “deserts” where valid patients would have to cross long distances across multiple counties just to get safe access to legal retail outlets.
Honestly, A3 is a pipe dream and the only way you should cast a YES vote for it is if your plan is to cast YES votes on all 3 to ensure the state gets some form of medical marijuana. That is a dangerous game, though.
Like Amendment 2, A3 would be a constitutional amendment. This means that the only way to update or change the law would be by a vote of the people of Missouri, rather some shady backroom deal done by paid-for politicians behind the scenes.
Prop C is a bit of a mystery.
Funded by dark money private donors, Prop C proposes just a 2% sales tax, the lowest of all three initiatives.
Patients would be allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of dried flower every 30 days but would not be allowed any personal, caregiver, or home growing.
Since it is not a constitutional amendment, it could theoretically be passed in conjunction with either A2 or A3.
Since all three initiatives are on the same ballot, and voters can vote the same way on all three if they choose, there is a chance that bits and pieces from all three could be picked apart and woven into one Frankenstein amendment that will likely further divide the cannabis community in the state.
That’s why some cannabis connoisseurs are choosing to skip all three on this year’s ballot, instead voting only for cannabis-friendly candidates in preparation for a run at full adult use legalization in 2020.
Our friend Alisha A. loves her life in Missouri, and LOVES cannabis, but she just cannot bring herself to vote for any of the options on the ballot this year.
“Amendment 2 is an attempt to hijack authority over an industry through hyper regulation,” says Alisha, adding, “This needlessly raises the cost to the patient and makes medical marijuana unnecessarily cost-prohibitive for patients in need.”
She has her sights set on the bigger picture, telling us, “I'm in full support of the MCRPA 2020 and believe that we will be able to achieve total legalization and decriminalization this time around.”
Still, Alisha has plenty of motivation to rock the vote tomorrow, as Claire McCaskill is in a fight for her political life in the Senate, and Jamie Schoolcraft is in a very tight race to represent Missouri in the U.S. Congress. Both candidates have pledged support for cannabis reform in the state and have earned Alisha’s well-contemplated vote.
NORTH DAKOTA – Medical use since 2016, now seeking adult/recreational use
Much like in Michigan, when voters in North Dakota were given the opportunity to decide on medical marijuana legalization, they gave it a green wave of support and a 64% victory on Election Day.
Unlike Michigan, they aren’t trying to wait a full decade to kick it up a notch and legalize the use of cannabis for ALL adults over the age of 21. In fact, if North Dakota legalizes the recreational use of cannabis tomorrow, they will have had the shortest amount of time elapse between implementing medical and adult use cannabis programs of any of the other 9 states on the list.
Tomorrow voters should consider a YES vote on Measure 3 which will not only legalize the cultivation, processing, sale, possession, and use of cannabis for all adults in the state, but it also includes strong and specific language to include criminal record expungement provisions to help make right the wrongs of the past.
By far the most intriguing aspect of Measure 3 is that it does nothing to setup a license/permit system or any state-regulated taxation effort. Instead, residents are allowed to grow as much weed as they want and sell it or trade it tax-free.
Polling has been a toss-up in this notoriously Conservative state, with 46% in favor of legalizing, 39% opposed, and 15% still “undecided” in June of this year.
The powers that be in the state are scared to death because if Measure 3 passes, it also includes language that mandates that the new law be implemented within 30 days of passage.
Do you smell that, North Dakota? That’s freedom. Lead the way!
UTAH – Seeking to implement the state’s first medical marijuana program
Jesus H. Christ, how nice would it be to hide behind the alleged ‘separation of church and state’ every year at tax time, but then be allowed to weigh in (with fat, untaxed campaign donations) on every political issue on the ballot each November?
That is exactly what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does on everything from same sex marriage in California to medical marijuana in Utah.
For a year or more, the issue of legalizing medical marijuana in Utah has been a hot topic for debate in the Beehive State. Those in favor of it are pushing for a limited medical marijuana program that would establish a regulated and taxed marketplace where patients only with a valid doctor’s recommendation could either purchase cannabis and related products from licensed retail outlets, or grow up to 6 plants of their own at home - but only if they live at least 100 miles (!!!) from their nearest dispensary.
This may sound like pretty standard stuff to the rest of us, but to those who allow the church to form their opinions, it is the opening of the gates to hell. Unfortunately, over 60% of Utah residents identify as LDS/Mormon, so once the church muddied the waters, support for Prop 2 has fallen.
Earlier this year, at a stalemate, the two sides have agreed on a “compromise”. The problem with meeting zealots in the so-called “middle” is that it instantly gives equal weight to their outdated, ass-backwards views on cannabis.
Allegedly state legislators have vowed to convene after the November vote and come up with a collaborative compromise that both sides can agree on.
But wait, then why are the voters going to the polls tomorrow if lawmakers are openly saying that the results won’t matter?
As counterintuitive as this may sound – THAT IS ALL THE MORE REASON TO SHOW UP AND VOTE YES ON PROP 2.
If Prop 2 can bury the opposition in tomorrow’s tally, those opposed to cannabis legalization will have much less bargaining power moving forward. Show them that your voice matters and that it will be heard.
There you have it!
Voters in these four states have a chance to make cannabis history tomorrow while putting their home states on a progressive path.
Countless kids and adults suffering from ailments that can be treated with cannabis are counting on you to get out and vote! The same goes for the weed warriors who blazed this trail to legalization though the dark days of prohibition and now have a chance at expungement and retribution – surely you aren’t too busy or unconcerned to help them, right?
Take some time tonight to review the issues both large and small, cannabis and otherwise, that will affect you and the people you care about and then make your voice heard through the power of democracy tomorrow November 6th when you vote!