Nine states have ballot measures regarding marijuana legalization, five of which will consider legalizing recreational marijuana in November. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are looking to legalize marijuana and create retail markets, while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota are proposing medical marijuana legislation.
Here are the details.
1. Arizona — Recreational
In 2010, Arizona became the fifteenth state to legalize medical marijuana, and the state currently has nearly 100,000 medical marijuana card holders. Now the state is considering legalizing recreational marijuana, too. The Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Act (Prop. 205) will allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants. Twelve plants is the limit for a single residence with two adults. The stipulations concerning home grows require the plants to remain in an enclosed, locked space, and only adults in a household where cannabis is grown are allowed to use it.
2. Arkansas — Medical
Arkansas is a unique state when it comes to marijuana this election. The state has two competing ballot proposals, both of which consider legalizing medical marijuana.
The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (Issue 7) would allow medicinal marijuana to treat 56 qualifying conditions. The state's Department of Health would be responsible for implementation. The department would also allocate tax revenue for low-income patients to have access to medical marijuana.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (Issue 6) would allow marijuana to treat seventeen qualifying conditions and would create a Medical Marijuana Commission to implement the measure, as opposed to the Arkansas Department of Health. Tax revenue would go into the general fund and help pay for technical institutes, vocational schools and workforce training. Issue 6 would also make a repeal of the law impossible.
3. California — Recreational
California, which was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996, is considering legalizing recreational marijuana as well. Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), would create a taxed retail industry. Home grows would be limited to six plants, and adults 21 years and older would be allowed to possess one ounce of marijuana flower, or up to eight grams of concentrates. According to Forbes, roughly 60 percent of Californians are in favor of passing the bill.
4. Florida — Medical
Florida is back in the fray. The state considered legalizing medical marijuana in 2014, and the measure lost by only 2 percent. The issue is back on the table with Amendment 2, which would allow licensed physicians to prescribe medicinal marijuana to patients with debilitating medical conditions. The Florida Department of Health would register and regulate dispensaries and would be responsible for issuing identification cards to patients and caregivers.
5. Maine — Recreational
Maine's Marijuana Legalization Act would allow possession of up to two and a half ounces of marijuana, as well as the possession, cultivation and transportation of up to six flowering marijuana plants. Twelve immature plants, along with unlimited seedlings and any flower produced from those plants, would be permitted at the person's residence. Maine was the fifth state to legalize medical marijuana, following California in 1996, and Oregon, Washington and Alaska passed laws in 1998.
Continue to learn about four more states that will be voting on marijuana measures in November.
6. Massachusetts — Recreational
Massachusetts voters are considering the Question 4 initiative this fall. The proposal would allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana inside an individual's residence and up to ten ounces in an enclosed, locked space within the residence. Six marijuana plants are allowed per person (twelve per residence), but they must remain in an enclosed, locked space, and only adults over the age of 21 who live in the residence would be allowed access to the marijuana grown from those plants.
7. Montana — Medical
Like Arkansas, Montana lawmakers have been very strict and generally unsupportive when it comes to medical marijuana. Proponents of the Medical Marijuana Restoration Initiative hope the bill will repair the current medical marijuana program in Montana, which was put in place by Senate Bill 423 in 2011. The initiative on the ballot would repeal 423's requirement that medical providers have no more than three patients at a time. While medical users would only be allowed three plants in their homes, physicians could prescribe marijuana to more than 25 patients a year.
8. Nevada — Recreational
After passing medical marijuana in 2000, Nevada residents will have the opportunity this November to make recreational cannabis legal as well. Question 2 would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess, consume and cultivate marijuana and possess one ounce at a time. The state would receive a 15 percent excise tax that would support K-12 education. There's an additional clause stipulating that anyone who does not live within 25 miles of a marijuana dispensary can grow up to six marijuana plants.
9. North Dakota — Medical
The North Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative would allow medicinal use of cannabis for debilitating medical conditions outlined in the bill. There are thirteen qualifying illnesses, including cancer, Crohn's disease, epilepsy, chronic pain, PTSD and dementia. A similar measure failed to reach the ballot in 2012, after authorities determined that thousands of signatures on the petition were fraudulent.
If these measures pass, the five states considering recreational marijuana will join four others with similar laws: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. From a cannabis perspective, the United States is evenly divided, with 25 states currently allowing medical marijuana use and 25 considering the drug illegal. If medical marijuana use passes in just one of these four states, the country will pass the halfway mark on the road to nationwide legalization.
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