There are either ballot measures or legislation being considered in 11 — whoops, make that 10 (go, Oklahoma!) — states this year that will affect marijuana access and availability. What are they, and what can citizens of those states do to help push the measures to success?
First, some good news: Oklahoma approved a ballot measure on Tuesday, June 27 to allow for medical marijuana. It remains to be seen how it’s regulated — sometimes, despite what the people want, those who make money off of private prisons turn Acapulco Gold into a pile of steaming ditch weed. It survived a $500,000 campaign from law enforcement and politicians encouraging a “no” vote. (Other states, take note: the Oklahoma measure all began with a signature campaign two years ago to get it on the ballot.)
So, which state is next, and how can you help?
New Jersey has a limited medical marijuana provision in place. Both legislators and some progressive mayors are pushing to expand that to over 100 dispensaries across the state (from the current six.) Alternatively, some legislators are considering full-on recreational MJ in NJ, possibly by end of summer. So what can you do? Contact your legislator, for one. Also, give Governor Phil Murphy a “Hell yeah!” by contacting his office. You can sign this petition and pass it around, and pop on over to the New Jersey State Facebook page and leave a comment.
Michigan has been legal for medical use for 10 years, and despite efforts by some townships and cities to put a knife in the law by prohibiting dispensaries, it’s thrived. Now, after another signature drive following the failed one of 2016, it’s on the ballot. The new laws are defined already, so if it’s voted up, they will take effect pretty quickly. What can you do to help the measure pass? Vote, get out the vote and ask everybody you know who is in favor of the measure to head to the polls on November 6.
Delaware legislators are considering full recreational marijuana this week in the state House, but even if it passes, it will probably not clear the Senate. And Delaware is one of 24 states that do not allow ballot initiatives at all.) It has had legal medical marijuana since 2011, though it took a long time to get it all moving in the right direction so people could actually access it. Start here to contact legislators. There’s even a petition you can sign and pass around. Also, if you’re part of an organization that wants to sign on in support, you can do that here.
Rhode Island has three medical dispensaries, and recent legislation to expand that failed. In addition, the state raised the dispensary fee for new facilities from $5000 a year to $250,000; that’s an insane hike, and it is designed to prevent anybody from getting into the business except — surprise! — the extremely wealthy. Recreational ganja was close to being on the ballot this year, but it looks like that won’t happen yet, despite Massachusetts going full steam ahead right next door. So go ahead, reach out and contact your reps at the federal and at the state level.
Connecticut recently refused to consider opioid withdrawal from one of the legal criteria for an individual to get a medical marijuana license. Still, recreational weed legislation has passed the committees it needed to, by a close vote of 27 to 24, and is headed for some kind of resolution and final vote by the General Assembly in October. Now’s the time to put the pressure on, folks. And there is a petition, if that’s your kinda thing.
Ohio is playing games with the medical marijuana law it passed two years ago, and it looks as if there will be nothing available in that state until late this year at the earliest. Well, unless you count the CBD oil “Epidiolex” just approved by the FDA that it will allow before then. Yes, it’s made by a pharmaceutical company, and will likely be expensive because of that. Still, the oil, designed for epilepsy patients, might be a godsend for a few. Meanwhile, there is a proposed fully recreational constitutional amendment awaiting consideration right now, and it’s been approved to proceed. Now, it’s a matter of collecting over 300,000 signatures to get it on the ballot in 2019. Ohioans, mobilize!
Kentucky might be poised for medical marijuana , but it’s complicated. The Attorney General, Alison Lundergan Grimes, is strongly in support. But the Republican Governor Matt Bevin, thinks there are far too many “marijuana overdoses” to agree to any of that foolish, wacky weed stuff. Still, it’s slowly getting there, and you can help by hitting up this link to contact legislators.
South Dakota citizens tried to get a medical marijuana ballot initiative going for November, but some of the 14,000 signatures needed to make it happen were labeled “fake” by the Secretary of State early this year, so it won’t be happening. They’ll try again for next year; if you’re looking for a place to donate or help get signatures when the campaign restarts, you can begin with New Approach South Dakota, a non-profit working to make it so.
Utah, believe it or not, has a medical cannabis measure on the ballot for November. It’s faced some legal challenges but it looks solid, and it’s reached this point because of a signature-gathering campaign that collected over 100,000 names. An incredible 77 percent of people in the state support medical marijuana! If you feel the need to help out the non-profit working to make it all happen there, check out the Utah Patients Coalition. Most important: Vote and help others get to the polls, ask folks who you know will support it to vote, and all the rest of that participatory democracy stuff.
Missouri has multiple ballot initiatives in the works, and it looks like all three will be up for a November vote. The organizing and legwork for that campaign is by several non-profits, including Missourians for Patient Care, New Approach Missouri, and Find the Cures, and the good people in MO could use financial help as well as folks getting out to vote. The House recently passed a medical cannabis initiative still to be considered by the Senate, because then the legislature would have much more control over the implementation. This concept has actually come up in several states, and it’s fascinating to hear them lay it out clearly, as Republican Rep. Jim Neely did with the House measure. “If we don’t take action,” Neely said, “voters of this state may very well take the decision out of the hands of the politicians and put it in the hands of the voters.” They can’t have THAT now, can they?!
There are several national non-profits doing great work to support these efforts. They are:
- National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
- Marijuana Policy Project
- Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
- Americans for Safe Access
- The ACLU of Washington State was one of the key players in getting that state to legalize recreational marijuana.
It’s clear that the winds of change are blowing in the right direction, and this will be a critical year for pro-cannabis legalization of various kinds. Primarily, we need to get out the vote in every state that’s got something going on.
Let’s inundate the polls and vote yes everywhere we can!
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