Four states will decide on medical marijuana legalization, while Florida and California have to choose between pro-legalization and against-legalization candidates for Governor.
On November 6th, United States citizens will once again face the ballots. And, like it was in 2016, marijuana legalization is one of the main characters. Four states will vote on marijuana legalization in some way, while California and Florida will choose new Governors that will define the cannabis future within its borders.
As you can see, there is much at stake. We’ve prepared a quick review on what you need to know about marijuana legalization in Election day.
Legalizing marijuana: Can a change in US House make it happen?
Cannabis is one of the most trending topics in the US. A recent Gallup report says that “66% of Americans support legalizing marijuana”. The tides are definitely changing.
The United States is currently facing an opioid addiction crisis, and cannabis can be the answer for chronic pain patients. Also, veterans are vowing for cannabis as a treatment for PTSD. And if health isn’t enough, tax revenue in states like California and Colorado is over 2 billion dollars. This is all happening before these midterm elections, in which cannabis has a mayor role.
Now, political experts think that next Tuesday we will witness a change in the U.S House. Rep. Earl Blumenauer told Marijuana Business Daily that “if Democrats are in charge of the House, the momentum will be unstoppable”.
The STATES Act
But when it comes to legalization, representatives from both parties have shown support. The STATES Act, currently in Congress, is a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (Republican) and Elizabeth Warren (Democrat). This act will decriminalize marijuana on a federal level.
Currently, the bill has support of 29 member of Congress of both parties (see table below). All of them will be facing reelection during this midterm.
Neal Levine, chief executive officer for the Cannabis Trade Federation, told MJD that this is an excellent chance of passing the Act “no matter who controls the House”.
Ending federal marijuana prohibition is beyond parties and ideals.
States that may legalize cannabis during these midterm elections
During these midterm elections, voters will decide marijuana legalization in several states. Michigan and North Dakota will vote for legalization of recreational marijuana. Utah and Missouri voters can approve medical marijuana legalization. Check out what each state is voting for on November 6th.
Michigan citizens will decide if they approve adult use of recreational marijuana. Proposal 1 will legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over. Also, it will allow marijuana possession, cultivation (up to 12 plants) and sale. If passed, flower, concentrates, and edibles will be aloud too.
Therefore, recent polls show that 67% of voters support legalization, 35% opposed it and 3% are still undecided. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state of Michigan. If Proposal 1 passes, it will mean a full marijuana legalization.
North Dakota legalized medical marijuana in 2016. But Measure 3 is going all the way for full legalization. If approved by the voters, it will allow adults to use and grow marijuana. However, it didn’t set a limit on how much marijuana an adult can posses or cultivate and it doesn’t mention licensing. Furthermore, Measure 3 will also remove marijuana from the state’s list of Schedule I substances.
Because it is such a progressive measure, recent polls don’t show a very good outcome. Only 26% are in favor and 65% are opposing it, as shown by Leafly.
Utah’s Proposition 2 will allow patients with medical conditions access to medical marijuana. These medical conditions include cancer, HIV, epilepsy, chronic pain, ALS, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, MS, PTSD, and autism. In particular, medical marijuana prescriptions will be handled by the State. Proposition 2 only allows 5 privately owned and 1 public dispensary. Recent polls show a 64% support.
Missouri has 3 measures to consider in these midterm elections. Amendment 2 will tax medical marijuana at 4%. The tax revenue will go to healthcare services for veterans, among others. It will also allow patients to grow medical marijuana.
Amendment 3 will tax medical marijuana at 15%. This tax revenue will be used for a cancer research institute. However, this institute will be chaired by Brad Bradshaw, who is the lawyer pushing the bill. Bradshaw will also choose the board of the institute. In contrast, it wont allow patients to grow their own cannabis
Finally, Proposition C will tax medical marijuana at 2%. In contrast from the other two measures, this one will allow licenses for medical dispensaries. These dispensaries will cultivate, produce, test and dispense medical cannabis. However, it doesn’t allow patients to grow their own cannabis. Similar to Amendment 2, Proposition C will use tax revenue for veterans, drug treatment, and education.
The state of Ohio has struggled to legalize medical marijuana. In 2015, Buckeye State voters turned down Issue 3. This measure would have created a monopoly in the state for medical marihuana. In midterm election 2018, the ballot will face decriminalization.
Issue 1 will “convert drug possession and drug use crimes to misdemeanors with no jail time”, as described in Dayton Daily News. This means that if you buy or consume marijuana, you won’t go to jail. Nevertheless, drug trafficking crimes are still considered as felonies.
Regarding Issue 1, felony offenders won’t go back to jail for “small drug-related violations”. So, the funds saved from prison expenses will go to drug treatment programs.
The measure has powerful supporters. For example, Chan Zuckerberg Foundation donated 3 million dollars to favor de initiative. Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg’s wife, is the founder of the organization. Also, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made a 1 million dollar contribution.
Ohio’s politicians are against approving Issue 1, including current Governor John Kasich. The state will vote for his successor on November 6th. Ohio Attorney General, Mike De Wine, is running for Governor and opposes the measure. Democrat candidate Richard Cordray supports Issue 1.
California and Florida choose Governors
It all points to California continuing green. The Golden State became full legal when recreational marijuana was legalized earlier this year. The race for Governor is between Gavin Newsome, Democrat, and Jhon Cox, Republican. Newsome is the political face of marijuana legalization. “We moved towards legalization to get people into the daylight and into the sunshine of a regulated environment”, he told Newsweek.
On the other hand, Cox is in favor of medical marihuana, but is against full legalization. In the recent polls, Newsome has a two digit margin over Cox.
In Florida, the position of both candidates is clear and far opposite. Andrew Gillum, Democrat, is in favor of full adult use legalization. Gillum thinks that full adult-use legalization is the future for Florida. Republican candidate Ron Desantis opposes legalization and has even voted against allowing veterans access cannabis for PTSD. The race for the Governor seat is very tight, with Gillum only leading over one point.