Cannabis: The one thing we all can agree on

Jonathan Rose / Nov 07, 2022
hero-graphic-Cannabis: The one thing we all can agree on
Photo Credit: Esteban Lopez via unsplash

In a divided and partisan nation, there's one thing that unites most voters: Cannabis legalization

It's election week in the United States, and by many accounts the nation is more divided than ever.

Once you cut through the fog of partisan warfare and take a good look at what normal Americans really want, however, you'll find that there are actually a lot of issues that unite most of the nation: healthcare costs should be lower; respect for the military and armed forces; political ads suck; and, yes, cannabis should be legalized:

An April 2022 CBS News and YouGov poll shows that 66% of Americans believe that adult-use cannabis should be legal in both their state and at the federal level. This aligns with an April 2021 Pew Research Center poll showing that 91% of Americans believe cannabis should be legal for either medical use only (31%) or both medical and adult-use (60%).

And in the five U.S. states where adult-use cannabis may be legalized by voters on Nov. 8, those ballot measures are, for the most part, enjoying majority support.

According to a recent MJBizDaily analysis, a majority or plurality of voters in the four states that have seen polling — Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, South Dakota — support initiatives that would legalize retail sales of the plant. North Dakota, the other state, doesn't appear to have polls on the issue.

That, of course, doesn't mean voters will legalize weed in all five states on Tuesday (things in Arkansas, especially, are tricky), but it shows that — even if you're sick of the current national partisan bickering and culture wars — there's still a reason to vote. The health of millions of Americans depends on it.

The regulated and legal sale of cannabis is one thing that we all (for the most part) can agree on.

Here are the statewide cannabis-legalization ballot measures to keep an eye on on Tuesday, Nov. 8:

Arkansas: Issue 4

Arkansas is one of only a few states in the South to have a fully functional medical cannabis program, and it could up its game with adult-use sales in 2023 should Responsible Growth Arkansas succeed in its ballot measure. The group recently submitted twice the number of signatures necessary to get on the November ballot, and after a challenge, the state Supreme Court ruled that the proposed constitutional amendment will appear on the Nov. 8 ballots.

But if approved, experts say, the market would be the strictest in the U.S.

Maryland: Question 4

Maryland also has its own booming medical cannabis program, and 2022 looks like it will be the year that grows to adult-use. But rather than being activist-led, this change is going top down: The Maryland House and Senate have both approved a constitutional amendment that would legalize adult-use sales to those 21 and older come July 2023.

Sister legislation would make possession of 1.5 ounces of cannabis legal and change possession of as much as 2.5 ounces from a criminal offense to a civil violation. It would also automatically expunge many past cannabis convictions. Citizens will vote the legislation up or down in November.

Missouri: Amendment 3

Sixty-two percent of Missouri voters are in favor of legalizing adult-use cannabis in medical-only Missouri come November, according to Legal Missouri 2022, which turned in enough signatures to get Amendment 3 on the ballot.

Should the initiative pass, nonviolent cannabis convictions will automatically be expunged, and industry participation will be broadened to set small businesses, low-capital entrepreneurs, and those harmed by the drug war up for success.

North Dakota: Measure 2

The Peace Garden State may see a big change if the advocacy organization New Approach North Dakota is successful. Measure 2 will establish a process for licensing adult-use cannabis stores, manufacturers, testing laboratories, and other cannabis businesses.

If passed, regulators must pass rules and implement the program by Oct. 1, 2023. According to NORML, which is tracking these initiatives, North Dakota has historically had among the highest arrest rates for cannabis possession in the country “despite having among the lowest reported marijuana use of any state.”

South Dakota: Measure 27

It seems that South Dakota voters are doing their best to legalize cannabis programs every two years. Prohibitionist state leadership has done its best to block any progress in cannabis reform: Citizens approved two ballot initiatives that would have legalized adult-use sales while also establishing a medical marijuana program in 2020.

The state Supreme Court struck down the adult-use measure, but the medical program survived.

Activists are setting a lower bar this year with Measure 27, which would legalize growing cannabis (up to three plants), possessing as much as 1 ounce of cannabis, and gifting the plant (not selling it).

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