Five states are preparing to vote on whether or not to legalize the adult use of cannabis this year. If these measures pass, it will mean that anyone over 21 can legally possess small amounts of marijuana, grow their own plants at home, and consume cannabis products in private places like their homes or hotel rooms.
Currently, only nineteen states allow adults over 21 to purchase recreational cannabis products from licensed retail shops—and these five states could be next!
Legal Kush Across The Country?
Ten years ago, marijuana legalization was a pipe dream. Now, it’s the law of the land in over half of the states.
The first state to legalize cannabis recreationally happened just about ten years ago. Washington State and Colorado set the stage for the nation when they passed ballot measures in 2012 that legalized pot for adults 21 and older.
Now, Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota have measures on their ballots this fall for voters to consider legalizing recreational marijuana. They would join 19 other states and the District of Columbia with recreational cannabis laws on their books.
If the measure passes, that means that in just ten years, we went from a nation with no legal weed to a country with half of its states allowing adult-use marijuana sales. That’s quite an evolution!
In 2016, Arkansas approved medical marijuana. Now, voters could consider whether to legalize recreational cannabis as well.
The Arkansas Supreme Court recently cleared the way for voters to consider whether people 21 and over could use recreational marijuana. The court reversed a decision by the Board of Election Commissioners, which previously attempted to block its introduction to the ballot, similar to what’s happening in Oklahoma at the moment.
The proposed law would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and would allow licensed dispensaries to sell it after March 8th, 2023. It would not allow for cultivation at home or any other form of personal production.
Maryland is just a few steps away from legalizing recreational marijuana.
Earlier this year, lawmakers voted to put the question on the ballot, asking voters if marijuana should be legal for those 21 and older. The proposed constitutional amendment says recreational marijuana wouldn’t be legal until July 2023, with a transitional period between January 1st and July 1st.
If voters approve the measure and it passes, Maryland will join Washington D.C., which has already legalized adult-use cannabis possession and cultivation for adults 21 years of age or older.
Missouri’s Republican-led legislature has failed to pass recreational marijuana use for years, leading advocates to go to voters for approval instead, putting recreational cannabis on the ballot this November. Missouri’s amendment would approve cannabis for this 21 and older and would also allow individuals to grow their own cannabis plants.
The successful North Dakota Cannabis ballot initiative will, if passed, allow those 21 and older to legally use marijuana at home, as well as possess and cultivate a controlled amount of cannabis, subject to certain regulations. It also establishes policies to govern retail stores, cultivators, and other marijuana-related businesses.
South Dakota voters approved cannabis legalization in 2020, but Gov. Kristi Noem supported a lawsuit challenging it, and the state Supreme Court ruled that it violated the state Constitution. This year, voters will have another opportunity to weigh in on the legalization of recreational marijuana for those aged 21 and up.
We’ve come a long way in just a few short years, but we’re not done yet!
We need to keep working together to make sure that all of these states pass their adult-use cannabis legalization initiatives. If they all do, we’ll be half the way there—and we’ll have achieved something truly massive for so many people who have been unfairly criminalized for decades.
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