Every two years, American states can legalize cannabis on their scale via popular initiative referendums presented during midtermsmid-term elections, or during presidential elections.
This year, five states are proposing to vote for the legalization of cannabis at the vote on November 8.
Many of these proposed initiatives received overwhelming support from voters during the signature collection phase of the campaigns. In some cases, they collected twice the number of signatures required.
Five organizations initially filed requests to put pro-adult use initiatives on the 2022 ballot in Arkansas, but only one appears likely to succeed: Responsible Growth Arkansas.
The group is behind Arkansas’ Adult Use Cannabis Amendment, which would allow possession of a maximum of one ounce (28 grams) of cannabis. It would not legalize home cultivation.
The campaign had until July 8 to collect 89,000 valid signatures to qualify for the November 8 ballot. They provided double that number: 193,000 signatures.
On July 29, authorities announced that the measure had qualified for the ballot.
According to a poll conducted last February, about 54% of Arkansas residents support legalizing adult use.
The Maryland Cannabis Legalization Amendment has been certified and will appear on the November ballot.
It would legalize cannabis possession for adults starting July 1, 2023. In addition, it requires lawmakers to put in place a regulatory framework for the program, through separate legislation.
The Maryland legislature has already addressed the latter issue, through House Bill 837. If Maryland voters vote for legalization in November, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he would sign the bill:
- Adults would be able to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis
- Possession of 1.5 ounces to 2.5 ounces would only be subject to a fine, and would not be considered a criminal offense
- Adults could grow two cannabis plants at home
- The State Will Automatically Delete Records of People Convicted of Crimes Considered Legal by HB 837
- People previously charged with intent to distribute cannabis can apply to have their criminal records cleared after serving three years of their sentence
According to a survey of Goucher College released in March, 62% of Maryland voters support legalization. The state had failed to legalize in 2018.
On August 9, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced that the legalization of adult use measure proposed by Legal Missouri was qualified for the November ballot.
If passed, the constitutional amendment will allow retail sales, tax cannabis at 6% (with an additional 3% tax on local option), create equity licenses, and automatically expunge records of residents who have committed non-violent marijuana offences. Adults could purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis.
On Aug. 15, North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R) approved a measure to legalize adult use that will appear on the November ballot.
Although the group New Approach North Dakota had less than three months to gather the necessary signatures to put his legalization measure on the November ballot, he nonetheless triumphed… and it wasn’t even close. The group was expected to submit 16,000 signatures – 2% of the state’s population – but in July it submitted nearly 26,000.
The measure would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, four grams of cannabis concentrate and up to 500 milligrams of edibles. Adults could legally grow three plants at home. The state would be required to create a marketplace of retailers and manufacturers, and put in place testing and tracking procedures.
On May 3, 2022, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) has submitted the required signatures to place a new adult use legalization initiative on the November 2022 ballot.
On May 25, 2022, the South Dakota Secretary of State certified the signatures and placed the initiative on the November 8 ballot.
Although South Dakota voters overwhelmingly passed legalization in the November 2020 ballot, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) used taxpayer money to fund a lawsuit seeking to overturn the vote. In November 2021, the state Supreme Court sided with Ms. Noem and overturned the approved measure.
The new initiative emphasizes civil liberties: It would legalize personal possession and limited home cultivation, and reduce the corresponding criminal penalties.