Five states including Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada will be, or are extremely likely to be, voting on whether or not to legalize Cannabis for recreational use on November 8th.
Eight states have successfully landed measures on the ballot for November voters to exercise their right to the 15th amendment. Five of those states are looking to align themselves with the likes of such recreationally legal states as Oregon and Washington, and if they are successful in adding themselves to the list it would more than double the current number of states where recreational marijuana is legal. It’s not surprising that 3 of these states were also among the first to pass Medical use within the first four years of California’s historic 1996 legalization of marijuana for medical use. Shortly after, in 1998 Alaska, Oregon and Washington followed in California’s footsteps and all have already legalized recreational use. Maine was the sole state to pass in 1999 followed by Colorado(also already legalized), Nevada and Hawaii in 2000 making for a total of 8 original states. Due to California, Nevada and Maine are extremely likely to pass their initiatives by the end of the year, with the exception of Hawaii, all of the states that originally helped to lead the movement for marijuana reform will have followed in their own footsteps and legalized adult use of cannabis.
Nevada the most likely to approve recreational marijuana use.
Since Nevada was the first to submit enough signatures to get their initiative on the ballot we’ll talk about them first. Nevada’s signatures were gathered and confirmed so early on that their initiative has been confirmed for the November ballot since the end of 2014. Nevada already has a successful medical marijuana infrastructure and tallying from a recent poll by the Las Vegas Review Journal reported an 88% public approval.
Maine is on the ballot for legalizing cannabis.
Maine is another state that has a strong medical cannabis program that has been in effect since 1999 making them one of the first 5 states to follow in California’s footsteps after they legalized medical use in 1996. A 59% majority of residents are in favor of taxation on a legal marijuana industry presumably because it would send millions of dollars towards the construction of new schools.
2 states that have a long road to recreational cannabis.
Just because you get on the ballot doesn’t mean the work is done. Arizona and Massachusetts are two states where legalization isn’t exactly a shoe in. You would think that since proponents had no problem getting enough signatures to put their initiative on the ballot that passing that legislation would be a given but that’s not the case. The residents of Massachusetts seem to be split down the middle and polls show that that hasn’t really changed over the last couple of years either. A joint poll that was completed by The Boston Globe and Suffolk University revealed that numbers are still very similar to that of polls from 2014. This most recent poll showed that public was split almost equally when it comes to approval with 43% for and 46% against. Similarly a recent poll completed by O.H. Predictive Insights enlightened us to the fact that only 39% of Arizona’s residents support the legalization of recreational marijuana while a whopping 53% oppose. Demographics play a big part in voting and Arizona’s population includes a significant amount of elderly, who also happen to be generally more conservative voters. Given this generality it may prove to be very difficult to pass a recreational initiative anytime in Arizona’s near future. Both Arizona and Massachusetts have only legalized medical marijuana measures as recently as 2010 and 2012 respectively so things are changing very rapidly in these states and maybe that’s part of the issue.
California is home to the largest economy of all the states that are looking legalize cannabis.
That doesn’t mean that it couldn’t use the immense revenue in tax and license fees that this huge industry would bring in for the state. Estimates of the potential income generated annually from the Adult Use of Marijuana Act have been said to be in $1 billion range. This is a very important state in terms of marijuana reform and lawmaking. California is known for being on the leading edge and are looked to by lawmakers and is known as the state to watch. It also doesn’t hurt that they have 53 representatives in the House who would represent their districts. On this 20th anniversary of the year they first enacted the Compassionate Use Act and with a 60% approval poll it seems the time for California has finally come.
Polls are showing that the numbers are rising and support for legalization is in the majority, with 60% in favor of passing legislation. There are currently 25 states plus Washington DC with legal marijuana laws already on the books and of the 25 where it is still illegal, 15 of them do have allowances for CBD oil and derivatives for medical uses. In addition to the 5 state initiatives that are on the ballot for recreational marijuana three more states who will definitely be voting are Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota, all voting on medical marijuana initiatives that have secured their place on the ballot.
But that’s not all. There is potentially four more states that could very well squeak in just in time to make it to the vote as well. Oklahoma- with recreational hopes, Michigan and Missouri- with medical initiatives, are all waiting for the petition numbers to be certified in hopes to make it in time for the November vote. And then there’s Montana. Montana has an interesting situation forming where once the signatures are tallied they could be faced with 3 initiatives to vote on. There is already an initiative to loosen the confinements of the already existing Medical program and if the other two manage to make it to the ballot they will also be able to vote to either legalize recreational marijuana or repeal the current medical program entirely. This situation could divide the votes significantly.
With at least 8 more states definitely voting on marijuana this November, 5 of them possibly passing recreational use potentially more than doubling the current number of legal states, ‘Yes’ votes could bring the total number of states with some sort of legality to 28 plus Washington DC (not counting the initiatives that are TBD) this is definitely an historic time. We will be keeping you up to date with all of these changes as the next couple of months wind down and Election Day draws near.