A Look at Six States That Could Pass Marijuana Initiatives This Year

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

While marijuana reform efforts continue at an excruciatingly slow pace in state legislatures — Vermont became the first state to free the weed at the statehouse just last month — the initiative and referendum process continues to serve as a direct popular vote alternative to the crap shoot that is trying to get a pot bill through two houses and signed by a governor.

There are at least six states with a serious shot at legalizing either recreational marijuana or medical marijuana via the initiative process this year. In one state, a medical marijuana initiative has already qualified for the ballot; in another, plentiful signatures have already been handed in for a legalization initiative; in three others, signature gathering campaigns are well underway; while in the last, a legalization initiative hasn’t been officially filed yet, but already has serious financial backing.

By the time we get past election day, we should be looking at a legalization victory in at least one more state and medical marijuana victories damned near anywhere an initiative manages to get on the ballot. In the last election cycle, marijuana reform initiatives won in eight out of nine contests.

Here are the 2018 contenders:

1. Michigan — Legalization

The Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has already completed a petition campaign and handed in more than 365,000 raw signatures in November for its legalization initiative. It hasn’t officially qualified for the ballot yet, but it only needs 250,000 valid voter signatures to do so, meaning it has a rather substantial cushion. If the measure makes the ballot, it should win. There is the little matter of actually campaigning to pass the initiative, which should require a million or two dollars for TV ad buys and other get-out-the-vote efforts, but with the Marijuana Policy Project on board and some deep-pocketed local interests as well, the money should be there. The voters already are there: Polling has shown majority support for legalization for several years now, always trending up, and most recently hitting 58% in a May Marketing Resource Group poll.

2. Missouri — Medical

New Approach Missouri’s Right to Medical Marijuana initiative would legalize the use of medical marijuana for specified medical conditions and create a system of taxed and regulated medical marijuana cultivation, distribution, and sales. The campaign is well into its signature gathering phase and reported this week that it already has 175,000 raw signatures. It only needs 160,000 verified valid voter signatures, but has set a goal of 280,000 raw signatures to provide a comfortable cushion. Signature gathering doesn’t end until May 6. There is no recent state polling on the issue, but medical marijuana typically polls above 80% nationally.

3. New Mexico — Legalization

The Land of Enchantment has a unique path to a popular vote on marijuana legalization: A measure before the legislature, Senate Joint Resolution 4, would, if approved, take the issue directly to the voters in November. New Mexicans would vote on a constitutional amendment to legalize weed, and if they approved it, the legislature would meet next year to promulgate rules and regulations. The measure passed one Senate committee on Friday, but still faces another Senate committee vote, a Senate floor vote, and action in the House, and the clock is ticking. Supporters have only about two weeks to move this bill before the session ends. If it can get before the voters, it could win: A poll last week had support at 61%.

4. Ohio — Legalization

Responsible Ohio tried to legalize marijuana in 2015 via a “pay to play” initiative that would have created a growers’ oligopoly limited to cash-heavy early supporters who financed the entire campaign. Ohio voters didn’t buy that, so some of the players are back again with what they’re calling the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment. It hasn’t been officially filed yet, but would reportedly have a “free market” approach to a system of taxed and regulated cultivation, distribution, and sales, and it would allow for personal cultivation. Organizers say they have $3 million already for signature gathering and campaigning. They will need 305,592 valid voter signatures and they have a goal of July 4 for getting them.

5. Oklahoma — Medical

The Oklahoma medical marijuana initiative, State Question 788, has already qualified for the ballot and will go before the voters during the June 26 primary election. The initiative legalizes the use, cultivation, and distribution of medical marijuana to qualified patients. A January Sooner poll had support at 62%, a fairly low level of support for medical marijuana, which typically polls above 80% nationwide. But this is Oklahoma.

6. Utah — Medical

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act would allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana. It limits the numbers of dispensaries and growers, and patients could only grow their own if they reside more than 100 miles from the nearest dispensary. Patients could not smoke their medicine, but they could vaporize it. The Utah Patients Coalition is currently in the midst of its signature gathering campaign. It needs 113,000 verified voter signatures by April 15, and it has the money in the bank, including $100,000 from the Marijuana Policy Project, to get it done. A series of polls last year had support levels ranging from 69% to 78%.

New Mexico Senate Committee Approves Bill to Legalize Marijuana, Including Marijuana Stores

A Senate committee in New Mexico has voted in favor of legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for those 21 and older. 

Senate Joint Resolution 4, filed by Senator Ortiz Y Pino (D), was passed by the Senate Rules Committee by a vote of 4 to 3. Senators Lopez, Ortiz y Pino, Ivey-Soto, and Steinborn voted in favor of the resolution, with Senators Papen, Moores, and Pirtle voting against. The resolution would allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana in New Mexico.

“Today’s vote sets in motion the process to put the issue on a 2018 statewide ballot for voters,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance.  “Marijuana prohibition in New Mexico has clearly failed. It hasn’t reduced use and instead has resulted in mass criminalization, appalling racial disparities, and enormous fiscal waste. Senator Ortiz y Pino’s resolution will allow our legislature to rethink how we can enhance the health and safety of all New Mexicans through sensible reforms.”

Read moreNew Mexico Senate Committee Approves Bill to Legalize Marijuana, Including Marijuana Stores

9 States Have Legalized Cannabis – Here Are the 5 States Most Likely to Become #10

Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada have all legalized marijuana, and Vermont’s Legislature just approved a bill to join this list. Which state will be #10?

Below is a list (in no particular order) of the top five states we believe are the most likely to legalize marijuana next, becoming the 10th state in the U.S. to do so (which would make 20% of the entire country).

Read more9 States Have Legalized Cannabis – Here Are the 5 States Most Likely to Become #10

Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed in New Mexico Legislature

A constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana has been pre-filed in the New Mexico Senate.

The legislation, filed by Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, would amend the New Mexico constitution by adding a new section that reads: “Possession and personal use of marijuana shall be lawful by persons twenty-one years of age or older only if the legislature provides by law for:

A. the production, processing, transportation, sale, taxation and acceptable quantities and places of use of marijuana to protect public health and safety; and

B. any state revenue generated from the taxation of marijuana to be distributed to the general fund.”

Read moreMarijuana Legalization Bill Filed in New Mexico Legislature

New Mexico House Committee Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana

A New Mexico bill that would decriminalize up to an ounce of marijuana, while reducing the penalty for larger amounts, has been approved by a House committee.

discount tireThe House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee gave approval to Senate Bill 258 with a unanimous vote. The proposal already passed the state’s full Senate earlier this month with a 33 to 9 vote.

According to its summary; “Senate Bill 258 proposes to amend 30-31-23 NMSA 1978 to reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana.” A person convicted of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana “would be issued a $50 penalty assessment; more than one ounce but not more than four ounces would be a petty misdemeanor [up to 15 days in jail]; more than four ounces but not more than eight would be a misdemeanor [up to a year in jail]; and more than eight ounces would be a fourth degree felony.”

Read moreNew Mexico House Committee Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana

New Mexico Senate Passes Legislation to Decriminalize Marijuana

Legislation to decriminalize the possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana, while reducing the penalties for larger amounts, has been passed by New Mexico’s full Senate.

Senate Bill 258 was passed with a strong 33 to 9 vote, sending to the House of Representatives for consideration. If passed in the House it would be sent to Governor Susana Martinez who is opposed to marijuana law reform; however, a 2/3rds vote in the legislature can override a potential veto.

Under the proposed law, possessing up to a half ounce of cannabis would become a maximum fine of $50, whereas it is currently a misdemeanor punishable by up to 15 days in jail.

The measure would also reduce the penalties for possessing up to 8 ounces of cannabis.

Read moreNew Mexico Senate Passes Legislation to Decriminalize Marijuana

The 5 States Most Likely to Legalize Marijuana Next (and by 2018)

Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012. Oregon and Alaska followed in 2014. In 2016, Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada joined the movement. Here’s a look at the five states most likely to be next, and by the end of next year.

 

Vermont

Last year Vermont’s Senate became the first in U.S. history to approve a measure (Senate Bill 241) that would have fully legalized cannabis for those 21 and older. Despite also being supported by the state’s attorney general and governor at the time, it failed to pass the House.

However, proponents are taking up the issue again in 2017, with the added momentum of four additional states having legalized cannabis just a few months prior.

The state’s new Governor Phil Scott unfortunately doesn’t support legalization, but is at least open to the idea, saying “I can appreciate the discussion around ending the prohibition of marijuana.”

 

Read moreThe 5 States Most Likely to Legalize Marijuana Next (and by 2018)

New Mexico Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances Through House Committee With 3 to 1 Vote

New Mexico’s House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee has voted 3 to 1 to advance a measure to legalize recreational cannabis.

According to a legislative synopsis for the proposal (sponsored by State Representatives Bill McCamley and Javier Martinez); “House Bill 89 enacts the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act (CRFA); which establishes a comprehensive regulatory framework for the legal production, processing and sale (to persons 21 years of age and older) of industrial hemp, marijuana and marijuana items”.

It must now go through two more committees before being sent to a vote in the full House. It’s passage in the House would send it to the Senate; passage there would put it to the desk of Governor Susana Martinez for final consideration.

Read moreNew Mexico Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances Through House Committee With 3 to 1 Vote

Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed in New Mexico

Legislation to legalize marijuana has been filed in New Mexico’s House of Representatives.

Marijuana LegalizationThe Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act was filed by Representative Bill McCamley (D-LasCruces). It would allow those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, or up to two ounces at home. The possession of up to seven grams of cannabis concentrates (such as hash and oil) would also be allowed; as would the personal cultivation of up to six cannabis plants (up to 12 per household).

The proposal would establish a regulated system of cannabis retail outlets, supplied by licensed cultivation centers. Cannabis would be taxed at 15%; however, the measure leaves it open for cities and counties to enact an additional 5% tax.

Read moreMarijuana Legalization Bill Filed in New Mexico

Large Majority of New Mexico Voters Support Legalizing Recreational Cannabis

New MexicoA large majority of likely voters in New Mexico support legalizing cannabis for recreational uses, a new Albuquerque Journal Poll has found.

According to the survey, 61% of New Mexico voters likely to vote in the upcoming election are in support of legalizing cannabis for all uses for adults. Just 34% – roughly 1 in 3 – are opposed to the move, with 5% undecided. This indicates that if every undecided voter decided to oppose legalization, it would still have a double-digit lead (61% to 39%).

Read moreLarge Majority of New Mexico Voters Support Legalizing Recreational Cannabis