Cannabis is a hot topic in the news. On October 17, 2018, our friends to the north made headlines when cannabis was officially legalized for adult use. As the November 6 midterm elections draw closer in the United States, we’ve compiled a round-up of ballot initiatives across the country that will ask voters to weigh in on a variety of marijuana and industrial hemp initiatives.
Adult Use Ballot Measures
Michigan voters are voting for whether to allow adult use marijuana in Michigan. Michigan approved medical marijuana in 2008 and since has developed a robust system of regulations. This year’s measure allows for individuals 21 and older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles. The ballot establishes a state licensing system and allows municipalities to ban or restrict marijuana establishments. It also changes several current violations from crimes to civil infractions. A May 2018 poll shows 61 percent of the state’s voters in favor of this measure.
North Dakota’s initiative would remove cannabis from the state’s controlled substances law, allow possession and consumption for adults over 21, and establish new penalties on possession or distribution to or by individuals under 21 years of age. The measure would also create an automatic expungement process for individuals with convictions for a controlled substance that has been legalized. Polling is limited and inconsistent so we will have to wait and watch on Election Day. If North Dakota’s initiative passes, it would be remarkable given that the state only approved medical marijuana use in 2016 and the program is still being developed.
Medical Use Ballot Measures
Utah’s Proposition 2 would allow medical marijuana use and create a state-run distribution system for medical marijuana. Proposition 2 had strong support when polling began, with an all-time high of 77 percent approval in February. With such strong support, state lawmakers and advocates began negotiating a medical marijuana plan, and have recently announced a medical marijuana policy to be debated at a special legislative session in November. Due to this compromise, the public support for Proposition 2 has significantly dropped as Proposition 2 appears unnecessary. It seems whether or not Proposition 2 passes, medical marijuana will come to Utah.
Missouri voters will consider three separate initiatives for medical marijuana, two of which would change the state constitution and one that would allow for medical marijuana via statute. Here we could see all three passing, none passing or anything in between. The three differ mainly with respect to taxation and use of funds generated from taxation. The three initiatives may create confusion among voters as to whether to vote for one initiative or two or all three, which may impact the chances of any being passed. On the opposite side, if more than one initiative passes, and only one can be implemented, the courts will likely get involved to determine which will be implemented.
Other Ballot Measures
Colorado’s industrial hemp initiative is in preparation for changes to current federal law regarding industrial hemp. Amendment X seeks to require the state to follow the federal definition of Industrial Hemp. This would allow Colorado to more easily implement any new laws if a change at the federal level occurs.
Before and After the 2018 Midterms
Our Cannabis team is tracking news in the industry and will continue to share developments that affect our clients’ businesses. Subscribe to our blog for up-to-date information and our post-Election Day recap. We’ll keep you connected!