Marijuana on the Ballot – 2020

As has been the case for the last decade or so, marijuana is on several state ballots this year. Four states are voting on recreational legalization on November 3rd with another two states voting on medical uses.

hooka pipe image
Hooka Pipe Image

The two states that have medical use on the ballot are; South Dakota (IM 26) which currently focuses on several debilitating illnesses like; cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including, those characteristic of multiple
sclerosis. There is a stipulation in IM 26 which allows any state citizen to petition for the inclusion of other medical conditions.

Mississippi is the other state with medical marijuana on the ballot (Initiatives 65 and 65A). Under Initiative 65 there are a total of 22 conditions that would be green-lighted, while Initiative 65A doesn’t have any guarantees or stipulations outside of ‘politicians being able to decide’. The conditions covered under I65 are; cancer, epilepsy or other seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cachexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, chronic or debilitating pain, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, glaucoma, agitation of dementias, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, sickle-cell anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behaviors, pain refractory to appropriate opioid management, spinal cord disease or severe injury, intractable nausea, severe muscle spasticity, and similar diseases.

Recreational Marijuana Laws

Starting from east to west, the states with recreational marijuana use on the ballot are; New Jersey (Public Question 1), South Dakota (Amendment A), Montana (I-190 and CI-118), and Arizona (Proposition 201).

The item on the ballot in New Jersey would allow for controlling marijuana for persons 21 and over to use cannabis products legally. Recreational marijuana would be subject to state sales tax and if the legislature allows, local municipalities could pass an ordinance that would allow for an additional local tax on the sale of cannabis products. The state has strong support by the governor, congressmen, a state senator, and the senate president as well as considerable support from a number of unions including the ACLU. Republicans do not support this initiative.

The South Dakota initiative grants recreation use and ‘distribution’ of cannabis amounts up to one ounce by anyone 21 and older. If there are no outlets in a community, the law also allows for the cultivation of up to 3 plants per individual (up to 6 plants) in a locked space. The amendment also outlines a 15% sales/excise tax on the sale of marijuana in the state.

In Montana a commission has estimated that the sale of marijuana will generate $236 million in new revenue based on a 20% tax levied on sales to adults 21 and over. The studies that are in favor of I-190 and CI-180 are very clear about the fact that the illegal status of the drug has done nothing to curb the use and that prohibition has essentially failed.

Arizona is putting forward a law that allows for the sale, possession and consumption of up to 1 ounce of cannabis (including 5 grams of concentrate) for adults at least 21 years old. The estimates that are stated by those that support this initiative have estimated that the state will generate $300 million annually in new tax revenues, which will be used for community colleges as well as health care initiatives.

Leading By Example

The rest of this series of articles will be providing some overviews of how the states that have already passed similar legislation are performing. Several states like Colorado, Washington and California have some history and data around their marijuana management programs, but there are also states that took a very long time to launch their initiatives, like Maine, which launched several years after passing their legislation.

Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for more in this series.

Kurt Tietjen
Kurt has been in the online media business as long as it's been a business. Former SVP of Operations for, Chief Traffic Officer (head of audience & product) for Purch (formerly Tech Media Network), founder of High Peak Media and many other positions in businesses that no longer exist.