Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, And South Dakota Legalize Marijuana

Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota Legalize Marijuana 

Voters in Mississippi and South Dakota Approve Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota have legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older, as voters in each state approved their respective ballot initiatives at the ballot box. South Dakota also passed a medical marijuana initiative and became the first state in American history to enact both policies on the same day. The Marijuana Policy Project was instrumental in the Montana and South Dakota campaigns.

“This historic set of victories will place even greater pressure on Congress to address the glaring and untenable conflicts between state and federal laws when it comes to cannabis legalization,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which was founded in 1995 and has played a central role in 10 state-level legalization victories over the past eight years.

“From the Badlands to the Jersey Shore, and from the Grand Canyon to Big Sky Country, Americans across the country have embraced the idea that marijuana legalization is the policy decision that best serves the interests of public health, public safety, and, most importantly, justice,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of the Montana and South Dakota campaigns.

  • Arizona passed its ballot initiative, Proposition 207.
  • New Jersey passed its legislatively referred initiative, Public Question 1.
  • Montana passed complementary initiatives, Constitutional Initiative 118 and Initiative 190.
  • South Dakota passed its legalization initiative, Amendment A, and its medical marijuana initiative, Measure 26.
  • Mississippi passed its medical marijuana initiative, Amendment 65.

“With the passage of these initiatives, one-third of the population now lives in jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for adult use, and 70% of all states have embraced cannabis for medical use. The federal government is out of step with a clear national trend toward legalization,” said Hawkins. “We can put an end to the social injustices and other harms that result from the criminalization of marijuana. While cannabis legalization is not the cure-all to end the war on drugs, it is a necessary step and would provide an opportunity for many long-oppressed communities to finally have a chance to heal.”

“Regardless of who controls the White House, the House, and the Senate, we should demand landmark federal marijuana reform in 2021,” added Hawkins. “This is not a partisan issue. And with more Republican Senators representing states with medical marijuana and legal marijuana for adults, we’re hopeful that marijuana reform can serve as an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation. It’s also worth noting that the victory in New Jersey has the potential to accelerate reform efforts in neighboring states.”

Heading into Election Day, 11 states had legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over, and 34 states had legalized medical marijuana. Now, there are 15 legalization states and 36 medical marijuana states in the country.

Cannabis Policy Reform Advocates Release Report Card Grading Candidates for Governor in Maryland

MARYLAND: The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) released a voter guide Monday that grades Maryland gubernatorial candidates strictly on their positions and statements about cannabis policy. The report contains letter grades for each person running in Maryland’s Democratic Primary for governor in June and is based on answers to a questionnaire MPP sent to candidates, bill sponsorship, and their public statements regarding cannabis. The full report can be viewed here.

“There are real differences among the Democratic candidates when it comes to marijuana policy, from making a plan for legalizing marijuana a significant part of their campaign platform to declining to declare support for legalization at all,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “In gubernatorial and other races across the nation, candidates are increasingly realizing that regulating marijuana is a winning issue. We hope that this guide will help inform the voters as they make their choice here in the June 26 democratic primary or in the general election.”

Sixty-four percent of likely Maryland voters support making cannabis legal for adults, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland Poll conducted in September 2016.

In February, state lawmakers introduced bills to regulate cannabis for adults. If approved by 60% of both chambers of the Maryland Legislature, the bill would place a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot that would make possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis legal for adults 21 years of age and older and require the state to establish regulations and taxation for a legal cannabis market, as well as to ensure diversity in the cannabis industry. The bill to refer the issue to the voters could not be vetoed by the governor.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have made cannabis possession legal for adults, and eight of those states regulate and tax cannabis similarly to alcohol. Bills to make cannabis legal have been introduced in 20 states this year, including Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Michigan voters will likely be able to support a similar initiative on the November 2018 ballot.