Voters in several states will decide on marijuana-related ballot measures in November. Here is an update of where these efforts currently stand.
The group Responsible Growth Arkansas, led by former Arkansas Democratic House minority leader Eddie Armstrong, submitted more than double the signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. On Friday, July 29, state officials verified that proponents had collected sufficient signatures. Now the state Board of Election Commissioners must approve the name and ballot title of the measure — at which time it will be certified for inclusion on the November ballot.
The proposed constitutional amendment allows adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis. Home cultivation would not be permitted, and the measure does not contain provisions to expunge past records or to provide for opportunities for social equity applicants.
Lawmakers have approved a 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 will take 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.
In May, representatives announced that they submitted more than 385,000 signatures on Sunday. That is more than double the total (171,592) necessary to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. However, because the proposed measure is a constitutional amendment, advocates are required to obtain a set percentage of signatures (eight percent) from six of the state’s eight congressional districts. Officials on Tuesday said that their initial counts only verified a sufficient number of signatures from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th districts.
In response, Dan Viets, Chair of the Legal Missouri 2022 Advisory Board and Executive Director for Missouri NORML, said, “We are in the process of working with the MO Secretary of State to show why local county clerks have undercounted valid signatures. We will have the appropriate number of validated signatures by the August 9th deadline.”
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) have submitted signatures supporting two separate measures for 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.
In 2020, activists met the state’s signature requirement, but nonetheless had their measure struck from the ballot after the Nebraska Supreme Court issued an opinion finding that the initiative’s language violated the state’s single subject rule requirement. That is why this year’s effort is divided into two separate measures.
NMM turned in over 90,000 signatures for each of the medical cannabis legalization measures — just above the roughly 87,000 necessary to qualify them for the November ballot. In addition to the campaign’s slim margin, activists are also involved in a legal fight over the state’s ballot access laws.
Representatives from the group New Approach North Dakota have turned in 25,762 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. That total is roughly 10,000 signatures above the number of signatures necessary (15,582) to qualify it for the 2022 ballot. Those signatures await verification from state officials.
The proposed measure 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. Historically, North Dakota has long had one of the highest marijuana arrests rates in the nation, despite having among the lowest reported marijuana use of any state.
Advocates with the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol have agreed to a settlement that will postpone any opportunity for voters to decide on a citizens’ initiated marijuana measure until November 2023. During the interim, NORML Appalachia of Ohio is working with local partners to target municipalities across the state for local measures to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for marijuana possession. In past years, numerous cities throughout the state have approved local measures depenalizing marijuana-related activities.
Representatives from the New Approach PAC recently turned in over 164,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office in an effort to place a binding, statewide marijuana legalization initiative (State Question 820) on the November ballot. That total is well above the number of signatures necessary (94,911) to qualify for the 2022 ballot.
SQ 820 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.
Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt claimed that voters were misled when they approved medical cannabis legalization. In June, he signed legislation into law (House Bill 3208) imposing a moratorium on the issuance of any new cannabis business licenses. While campaigning for Governor, Stitt said that he personally opposed legalizing marijuana for adults and that he would campaign against it, but he also acknowledged that he would respect the will of the voters should they decide in favor of it.
For the second consecutive election, voters in South Dakota will decide on a ballot measure to legalize marijuana use by those age 21 or older. In May, the Secretary of State’s office confirmed that advocates had secured the necessary number of signatures to place Initiated Measure 27 on the November ballot. It permits adults to possess (up to one ounce), home-cultivate (up to three mature plants), and/or transfer without remuneration limited quantities of cannabis. The measure does not seek to establish a regulatory framework governing the licensed production and retail sale of marijuana.
Advocates limited the scope of the measure after a previous, more comprehensive measure that had been approved by voters in 2020 was struck down by the state Supreme Court.
The only way to change marijuana laws statewide 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 that 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.
Similar efforts in the city of Elgin (pop. 10,231), Denton (pop. 139,734), San Marcos (pop. 64,053), Harker Heights (pop. 31,657), and Killeen (pop. 148,573) have qualified for the November ballot. The San Marcos efforts is waiting for City Council approval on 8/16/22 to be fully finalized. Learn about volunteer opportunities.