Eight More States Legalize Marijuana for Medicinal and Recreational Purposes… Denver Legalizes Social Use… And Ohio Quietly Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession in Several Cities.
Read all about it in the HIGH TIMES weekly Legalization Roundup for November 14:
What: The Only Marijuana Legalization Initiative Rejected
How about the bad news first? Arizona was the only state with a marijuana-legalization initiative on the ballot last week that failed to pass. Proposition 205, which would have established a taxed and regulated cannabis market, was rejected by more than 52 percent of the voting public. Some of the polls leading up to the election predicted the measure would only make it by the skin of its teeth, if at all. Despite a last-minute push by the Marijuana Policy Project, reform forces were swamped by the hundreds of thousands of dollars of last-minute anti-pot bucks funding a misleading anti-marijuana advertising campaign. It will now be at least another four years before a similar measure can be put before the voters.
What: Voters Decide to End Prohibition in the Golden State
The marijuana legalization movement achieved its greatest victory thus far in last Tuesday’s election. Voters overwhelming approved Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which allows adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana without catching heat from law enforcement. These people can also immediately begin to cultivate up to six cannabis plants at home for personal use. Unfortunately, anything over an ounce is still consider a misdemeanor offense, punishable with up to six months in a county jail and fines reaching $500. Proposition 64 was California’s second attempt at legalizing for recreational use. Pot proponents gave it a whirl back in 2010 with Proposition 19, but the measure just didn’t have what it took, at that point, to see the light of day. Some predictions show the state will generate in upwards of $1 billion in addition tax revenue and create around 100,000 new jobs with this reform. Recreational sales are expected to get underway sometime in 2018.
What: Bay State Makes Good on Marijuana
Massachusetts opens the East Coast to marijuana legalization. Voters approved Question 4 on Tuesday, making it legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of weed and cultivate as many as six plants at home for personal use. Retail weed will be taxed at a rate of 3.75 percent on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax. Local governments will also be allowed to place an addition 2 percent tax on cannabis products. The retail market is expected to be open sometime in 2018.
What: Barely Legal
By a very narrow margin, marijuana has officially been made legal in the Pine Tree State. It was finally revealed on Wednesday that Question 1 had squeezed by with enough votes to make Maine the second state on the East Coast to legalize a recreational cannabis trade. Some reports on Tuesday night suggested the measure might have only passed by a fraction of a point. The new law will allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of weed and cultivate up to six plants at home for personal use. Public consumption is still illegal and will be punishable with a $100 fine. Retail sales are not expected to get underway until 2018. Some of the latest predictions show Maine could benefit from as much as $10 million in tax revenue with this reform.
What: Gambling, Prostitution and Now Legal Weed
Nevada voters approved Question 2, which legalizes marijuana in a manner similar to how it is being done in Colorado. As of the beginning of 2017, it will be legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. The vote came in the face of determined opposition from billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the face of casino owners who prefer folks to get messed up on overpriced casino liquor. But it could take some time before the retail market is fully operational. State regulators have until January 2018 to draft the rules governing the state’s new cannabis trade. All of the tax revenue generated from the sale of recreational marijuana will be used to fund schools.
What: Revenge of Amendment 2 Ends in Victory
Florida has become the first state in the South to legalize a comprehensive medical-marijuana program. Last Tuesday, voters in the Sunshine State came out in support for United for Care’s Amendment 2. The initiative, which was designed similar to the one that failed in 2014, passed with more than 71 percent of the votes. The new law will allow patients with around ten qualified conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, to participate in the program. It also gives people with “other debilitating medical conditions” the right to join if a “physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” The law takes effect on January 3, 2017.
What: Medical Marijuana Is Approved
It appears the South is starting to warm up to the idea of legal weed. Arkansas voters approved Issue 6 in last Tuesday’s election, giving way to the creation of a statewide medical marijuana program. The new law will allow patients with 17 qualified conditions to purchase cannabis medicine from licensed dispensaries all over the state. Arkansas officials were hoping the measure would fail, just like a similar initiative did a few years prior. One lawmaker even promised last month to introduce low-THC legislation during the next session if Issue 6 did not go the distance. Thankfully, the voters came out in support. Now, a state medical marijuana board must be assembled within the next 30 days, with cultivation and dispensary licenses issued by the summer of 2017.
What: Medical Marijuana Rejuvenation
Montana voters stepped up last Tuesday in support of a ballot measure intended to bring its medical-marijuana program back from the grave. Although marijuana has been legal in the state for medical purposes since 2004, the state legislature recently hit the program with some new rules that basically took it out of commission. But with the passing of I-182, which was approved with 55 percent of the vote, the program is set to become better than before. Unfortunately, an error in the ballot measure’s language prevents the new law from taking immediate effect.
Where: North Dakota
What: Budget Legalization
An impressive 64 percent of the voters in North Dakota made the decision in last week’s election to legalize medical marijuana. Measure 5 will allow patients with around 12 qualified conditions to possess up to three ounces of cannabis, while those living 40 miles from a dispensary can also grow up to eight plants at home for personal use. The program is expected to get underway within the next year. Interestingly, the campaign responsible for pushing the initiative is said to have made it all happen with just $6000.
What: Social Use Legalized in Denver?
Marijuana lounges now appear to be legal in Denver. The vote has not been called officially, however, and the proposal, while still trending ahead, could conceivably still lose once all the ballots have been counted. Ordinance 300 would allow certain establishments to designate areas for weed smoking. The pilot program would allow “any business, including art galleries, coffee shops, entertainment venues, private clubs and more” to apply for a permit to allow public cannabis consumption. These businesses would already need to have an existing business license. The goal of the program is study social use throughout the city in order to determine whether a more permanent plan should be put into place. The pilot is slated to end in 2020.
What: Decriminalization in Four Towns
Several communities throughout the state of Ohio quietly passed initiatives last week that will eliminate all of the penalties associated with the possession of marijuana. Last Tuesday, voters in Newark, Bellaire, Logan and Roseville approved decriminalization ordinances. An identical measure was rejected in Byesville. The new laws have decriminalized the possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana in a manner that dictates no jail time and no fines. However, state law still applies outside the city limits.
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