Voters in several states are anticipated to decide on marijuana-related ballot measures in November. Here is an update of where those efforts currently stand.
The group Arkansans for Marijuana Reform is seeking to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. It aims to allow adults 21 and older to possess up to four ounces of cannabis flower, two ounces of concentrates, and cultivate up to six mature marijuana plants and six seedlings for personal use.
Another activist group, Arkansas True Grass, is also gathering signatures for a 2022 ballot initiative measure. Their proposal seeks to create a system of regulated sales for adults 21 and older. Adults would be permitted to purchase up to four ounces of cannabis from licensed retailers and they would be allowed to grow up to 12 plants for their own personal use. (View signature locations.)
A separate 2024 effort has been filed with the Secretary of State that would allow adults 21 and older to possess 5oz of cannabis flower and to cultivate four plants. The measure includes social equity and expungement components.
Pending legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 2003 seeks to allow registered voters to decide on the legalization of cannabis for recreational use by adults 21 and over. The pending amendment states that “the possession, growth, cultivation, processing, manufacture, preparation, packaging, transferal, consumption, and retail sale and purchase of cannabis, or products created from or including cannabis, by persons 21 years of age or older, shall be lawful.”
According to statewide polling data, a majority of Iowa residents “favor legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in the state.”
House Joint Resolution 2006 amends the state’s Constitution to legalize the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana by adults age 21 and older, as well as establish a regulated cannabis market for retail sales within the state.
Current state law criminalizes any amount of possession as a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Cultivation is classified as a felony.
Lawmakers gave approval to the proposed Constitutional Amendment, House Bill 1, which asks voters: “Do you favor the legalization of adult–use cannabis 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, the referendum takes effect on July 1, 2023. At that time, adults will be legally permitted to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis and/or 12 grams of cannabis concentrates. 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.
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.
The proposed measure also seeks to broaden industry participation by small business owners and among 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.
Double the needed signatures for this measure have been submitted to the Secretary of State for verification.
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) is seeking to place two separate measures on 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.
New Approach North Dakota is seeking to place a measure on the November ballot that would legalize the possession of one ounce of cannabis, up to four grams of cannabis concentrate, and up to 500 milligrams of cannabis in an infused product; and the cultivation of up to three cannabis plants. This measure needs to gather more than 15,582 valid signatures by July 11, 2022.
Advocates with the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol collected a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters to place a marijuana legalization measure before lawmakers. The citizens’ initiated measure allows for the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 15 grams of marijuana extract by those age 21 or older. Adult Ohioans could purchase marijuana at retail locations or grow up to 12 plants in a private residence (where at least two adults reside). Retail cannabis products would be taxed at 10 percent. Municipalities can opt out of allowing retail sales if a majority of elected officials decide in favor of an ordinance to do so.
At this time, however, it appears that lawmakers will not consider the bill.
As a result, advocates were seeking to place the question before voters in November. Activists and political opponents litigated the issue in court, as questions remained regarding the timing of the group’s initial signature submissions. The court has decided that the initiative will not appear on Ohio’s November ballot in 2022. Activists did reach a settlement with state officials in a legal challenge that will allow them to preserve the initial signatures, provided the General Assembly with a second opportunity to consider the proposed statute, and established a clear path to ballot access in 2023.
Separately, Ohio NORML is working with partners to target municipalities across the state for local measures that seek to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for marijuana possession..
“We will continue to aggressively pursue the decriminalization of marijuana in our state,” Don Keeney, executive director of NORML Appalachia of Ohio, said. “Our work with the ballot initiative proves without a doubt that ordinary citizens can do extraordinary things,” he said. “This form of direct democracy gives us personal rights and personal freedoms that you might not know you have.”
There are three ballot initiative efforts pending in Oklahoma. At one point, all three groups were responding to legal challenges, which paused each of their signature collection efforts. In April, the court decided the language for SQ 820 is “constitutionally sufficient.” SQ 820’s signature drive is now underway with less than 90 days remaining to gather the required minimum of 177,958 signatures to get the initiative on the 2022 ballot.
SQ 820, sponsored by New Approach PAC, 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.
Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action (ORCA) is also seeking to place two initiatives on the ballot this fall.
- SQ 818, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Enforcement and Anti-Corruption Act, seeks to expand and revise the state’s medical cannabis program.
- SQ 819, the Oklahoma Marijuana Regulation and Right to Use Act, legalizes the possession of up to eight ounces of marijuana for those aged 21 and older. Adults may either purchase cannabis from state-licensed retailers or home cultivate up to 12 plants of cannabis. (Those who grow at home may legally possess the total yield of their plants).
After the Supreme Court nullified the result of a 2020 statewide vote legalizing the use of cannabis, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) have amended their language and are seeking to pass a new 2022 legalization initiative. The group recently submitted over 19,000 signatures from voters. Advocates need 16,961 signatures from registered voters in order to qualify the initiative for the ballot.
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. Recently, Voters in the city of Austin, Texas overwhelmingly approved a local ballot measure, Proposition A, depenalizing marijuana possession and prohibiting police from executing ‘no knock’ warrants.
Efforts in Elgin have qualified for the November ballot. Denton’s area activists have submitted their signatures for verification. Killeen, Harker Heights and San Marcos are still collecting signatures with the hopes of being on the November ballot.
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NORML’s State Policies Manager Jax James, who resides in Austin, added: “The overwhelming margin that this effort passed by is indicative of the broad support that exists among voters in our state. While these local advancements are important, they result in a patchwork of differing marijuana enforcement policies based on location. It is time for lawmakers in 2023 to take steps to enact statewide reform.”