The 2016 year has seen an unprecedented number of states jumping in on the ever-growing cannabis law reform movement. This coming November, voters in a total of eight states will have the opportunity to vote on marijuana initiatives in both the recreational and medical marijuana categories.
Though a record number organizations managed to get marijuana initiatives on the November ballot, there were others that weren't so successful. A marijuana legalization initiative was circulated in Michigan this year by an organization known as MI Legalize (Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee). MI Legalize turned in around 354,000 signatures, well over the 252,523 signatures that they were required to gather. But the initiative was denied after the Michigan Board of Canvassers determined that the signatures were expired. The board cited a policy stating that voter signatures older than 180 days needed to be verified by an affidavit from the original signer or by individual county clerks.
According MI Legalize chairman Jeff Henk; “This is a gross travesty and a grace miscarriage of justice. We collected enough signatures of registered Michigan voters to place what would've been the best marijuana legalization petition in the United States here in Michigan. Our petition was extremely popular, we would win.”
Oklahoma had a medical marijuana initiative as well this year and it seemed that it was headed for the ballot but disagreements over ballot title language delayed the initiative's certification, delaying a vote on it until 2018.
But for those who live in states that do have the chance to vote on some kind of cannabis legalization in November, how does one know whether to vote yes or no on a cannabis initiative? A legalization measure might be on the ballot in your state, but is it a fair law? Does it create more freedoms or less by making new rules for marijuana? As with other initiatives up for a citizen vote, educating yourself is the only way to make an informed decision.
Here are some short summaries of the cannabis legalization measures up for vote on the November 2016 ballot. Please read the full documents to make a more informed decision. Click on the a state's name to read the full text of that state's initiative:
Arizona – Prop 205 – Would legalize up to an ounce of cannabis for adults over the age of 21 and allow people to grow up to 6 plants for personal use
California – Prop 64 – Legalizes retail sale and consumption of marijuana by adults 21 and older and applies a 15% sales tax, authorizes re-sentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions
Maine – Question 1 – Would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis as an agricultural product and allow individuals over the age of 21 to purchase and consume marijuana at licensed retail outlets and marijuana social clubs
Massachusetts - Question 4 – Would legalize retail sales of cannabis to legal adults and would be subject to a 3.75% excise tax
Nevada – Question 2 – Legalizes retail sale and possession of up to an ounce of cannabis for personal use by adults over the age of 21 at a 15% tax rate
Arkansas – Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act – Would allow patients suffering from qualifying illnesses and conditions to obtain and consume medical cannabis
Florida – Amendment 2 – Allows physicians to certify suffering from cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn's Disease, Parkinson's disease, or multiple sclerosis to obtain and consume medical cannabis (Note: This is an amendment to the Florida state constitution and requires a 60% yes vote to pass)
North Dakota – North Dakota Compassionate Care Act – Would allow patients suffering from qualifying conditions to receive state medical marijuana cards and obtain cannabis from a licensed non-profit care center