Legalize It: States That'll Be Voting On Marijuana Legalization
It’s an innovative time to be living in the U.S. as 4 states take on cannabis legalization in this midterm elections. What some may call a “harmful drug” has actually had much attention lately for its medicinal use for conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, Crohn’s and more. With 30 states already approving some form of recreational or medical use, the herb is still federally illegal through its Schedule 1 drug classification.
A very controversial topic nationwide, only nine states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use as twenty-two states solely have legal medical programs. On November 8th four states, Michigan, North Dakota, Missouri and Utah, will have the opportunity vote on legalizing recreational or medical marijuana for adult use. Let’s take a closer look at their initiatives:
The Michigan Proposal 1, Marijuana Legalization Initiative would allow for individuals 21 and older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and edibles. If it passes, it would be the first state in the Midwest to legalize marijuana for adults. A decade after approving their own medical-marijuana laws, Michigan will vote this November on a ballot that would establish a regulated state licensing system and allow residents to grow up to 12 plants at home.
Overall, legalization in the state would make marijuana violations from criminal to civil infractions, while also establishing a 10 percent tax on marijuana sales; which would be used for implementation cost, clinical trials, schools, roads and municipalities that have marijuana business. According to The Hill reports have shown that 56 percent of likely voters in Michigan favor legalization.
Another state racing towards recreational cannabis is North Dakota. Measure 3, Marijuana Legalization and Automatic Expungement Initiative, supports the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in the state of North Dakota for people 21 years of age or older. This initiative creates an automatic expungement process for individuals with convictions for a controlled substance that has been legalized, in this case cannabis.
While the expungement process is a huge plus for the cannabis community, there are still groups opposing recreational marijuana such as the North Dakota law-enforcement officials. Measure 3 would allow for residents to grow unlimited amounts of marijuana and sell it tax-free, leaving no government system to tax and regulate the sales. Unlike other legalized states which restricts patients from growing, this initiative would be a change from the normally government regulated system. Currently, defense attorneys in the state are asked to postpone sentencing marijuana-related cases, arguing clients records would be expunged anyways, until after the election season.
Whereas North Dakota and Michigan both have one marijuana initiative, Missouri has three on their ballot this year. While these initiatives have different approaches, all three would legalize growing, manufacturing, selling and consuming marijuana and marijuana products for medical use. If all three pass, the state law indicates that the measure that gets the largest affirmative votes shall go into effect.
Focusing on public safety, Proposition C would impose a 2 percent tax on all marijuana sales. The proceeds would be split four ways to fund veterans health care, drug treatment programs, and early childhood development initiatives. Unlike Proposition C, Amendment 2 is the only proposal that would allow patients to grow up to six marijuana plants for medical purposes. The amendment would also tax marijuana at 4 perfect, with the proceeds going to fund veterans health care programs.
Lastly, Amendment 3 is an extensive tax law that would impose a 15 percent tax on all marijuana sales made within the industry. Sales by grower to dipensaries would be at $9.25 per ounce for marijuana flower and $2.75 per ounce for leaves; while sales by dispensaries to patients would be at 15 percent. The income produced by the sales would be put towards setting up a research institute and efforts to cure currently incurable diseases. There would be money set aside to purchase land for the institutes campus while also funding transportation, infrastructure, medical care, public pensions and income tax refunds.
Being the most conservative state on this list, Utah’s Proposition 2 would allow individuals to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes. Prescribed for certain conditions, smoking marijuana would remain illegal for patients though infused foods or vape pens are allowed under the initiative. The legalization methods stems from a debate between pro-legalization Utah Patients Coalition and the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, which opposes the plan. Groundwork has been laid down to meet both sides requirements as well as tend to the more conservative stance on marijuana use.
While smoking marijuana is prohibited, the initiative would create a state licensing system where state officials can regulate marijuana business as well as establish a distribution network. These terms have been agreed upon by both the Utah Patients Collation and LDS church, in which would ban residents from growing their own cannabis and have a more government controlled marijuana program.
Legalization in the United States is a trending topic, and as states help pave the way to positive marijuana reform, there is still so much to be done. Currently 62 percent of Americans say that marijuana should be legal, an overwhelming 6 in 10 US individuals; while 94 perfect of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use. Though this change entirely depends on our legal system, Americans, more-than-ever need the right tools to stay updated and educated on marijuana laws and reform.
By: Natalya Upshur