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2022 Midterms: Where is Cannabis on the Ballot?

This year’s midterm elections are critical to the future and growth of the legal cannabis industry.

Cannabis-related ballot initiatives provide voters an opportunity to legalize cannabis if their state legislature failed to do so . . . or hasn’t even tried. And when cannabis is on the ballot, it usually wins. As a matter of fact, during the cycle, every statewide cannabis-related measure that was on the ballot passed by wide margins.

But that was 2020, a presidential year, when voter engagement and turnout is highest. This November is a “midterm election” where important local issues are often decided, and where voter turnout is historically disappointedly low. Cannabis legalization has record high public support—the challenge is to turn that energy and enthusiasm into actual voting.  Here are the states where that will need to happen:

 

Arkansas 

What’s on the Ballot: Legalization of Adult-Use Cannabis
Status: Pending decision from Arkansas Supreme Court

Arkansas voters may have the opportunity to weigh-in on a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize adult-use cannabis in the state. A group called Responsible Growth Arkansas secured enough signatures on a petition to get the issue on the November ballot.

After an exhaustive review, the Arkansas Secretary of State confirmed the measure was eligible for the ballot. However, state election officials voted not to certify on the grounds that the measure’s title was misleading. In response, activists filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court to challenge the decision. The Arkansas Supreme Court ordered the Secretary of State to certify the ballot initiative while the lawsuit moves forward. In all, Arkansas voters will be seeing the measure on their ballot this November, but it’s not certain whether the votes will be counted.

If the measure passes and the will of the voters is implemented, the state would allow licensed adult-use cannabis retailers to begin sales on March 8, 2023. Priority for licensing would be given to existing medical retailers, after which the state will issue 40 adult-use licenses via lottery. The amendment would cap retail licenses at 120 and cultivation licenses at 20. Adults 21 and older would be allowed to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis.

Ballot language can be found here.

Missouri

What’s on the Ballot: Legalization of Adult-Use Cannabis
Status: Confirmed

Election officials confirmed that Missouri activists collected enough signatures to place an adult-use legalization initiative on the state’s ballot. The ballot measure, formally known as Initiative 2022-05, was spearheaded by the group Legal Missouri 2022. The initiative will allow adults 21 or older to purchase up to 3 ounces of cannabis, and grow cannabis plants at home in-line with state restrictions. Notably, the initiative would also allow people convicted of certain cannabis crimes to petition for record expungement.

Under the initiative’s guidelines, a 6% tax will be placed on adult-use cannabis sales. The Department of Health and Senior Services will oversee the state’s cannabis regulatory and licensing framework. At least 144 microbusiness licenses will be issued, with those most impacted by the War on Drugs and/or low-income applicants being given priority.

Ballot language can be found here.

Maryland

What’s on the Ballot: Legalization of Adult-Use Cannabis
Status: Confirmed

Maryland residents will have the opportunity to vote on adult-use legalization this November after the state Legislature voted in April to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. The measure would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older, allowing individuals to purchase up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis. Additionally, adults would be allowed to cultivate up to 2 cannabis plants for personal consumption.

The proposed legislation would also decriminalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. Additionally, previous cannabis convictions for actions no longer illegal under the proposed law would be automatically expunged, and those serving active sentences for applicable offenses would be made eligible for resentencing. Although the measure is likely to succeed in November, the new law is scheduled to come into effect in stages, and not immediately. Possession for small quantities of cannabis would be reduced to a civil offense beginning January 1, 2023, and legalization for up to 1.5 ounces would take effect 6 months later.

Ballot language can be found here.

North Dakota

What’s on the Ballot: Legalization of Adult-Use Cannabis
Status: Confirmed

In North Dakota, an adult-use legalization measure was approved to be on the ballot in November. The organization New Approach North Dakota submitted close to 26,000 signatures, far surpassing the 15,582 that were required. The measure would legalize the possession of 1 ounce of cannabis, 500 milligrams of THC for edibles, and 4 grams of cannabis concentrates for adults aged 21 and over. Additionally, adults would be permitted to cultivate up to 3 plants for personal use. The adult-use legalization measure does not include an expungement effort for non-violent cannabis offenses.

Ballot language can be found here.

South Dakota

What’s on the Ballot: Legalization of Adult-Use Cannabis; No Sales Permitted.
Status: Confirmed

South Dakotan activist groups have worked to get an adult-use ballot initiative on the 2022 ballot. The initiative, known as Measure 17, does not create a regulatory system or tax structure for the retail sale or cultivation of cannabis operations. The initiative would permit the possession of 1 ounce of cannabis along with the cultivation of up to 3 plants for personal use.

In 2020, South Dakota voters approved a legalization initiative to be on the November ballot, but Republican Governor Kristi Noem’s administration worked to fight the initiative. Enough South Dakotans supported the measure for it to pass, only for the Supreme Court to strike down the measure after the election.

Ballot language can be found here.

Oklahoma

What’s on the Ballot: Legalization of Adult-Use Cannabis
Status: Pending Approval

In Oklahoma, advocacy group Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws (OSML) collected enough signatures to have their proposed initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis approved for the ballot.

State election officials and OSML are in an ongoing conflict over the validity of certain procedural deadlines—these deadlines, and whether or not they are met or enforced, will determine the placement of this initiative on the ballot. If unsuccessful for this November, the measure will appear on the ballot for the next statewide election.

The proposed initiative would legalize adult-use cannabis for adults 21 and older, with a 15% excise tax on purchases. Individuals would be allowed to purchase and/or possess 1 ounce of cannabis, in addition to being permitted to cultivate 6 mature and 6 immature cannabis plants.

Ballot language can be found here.