Marijuana, cannabis advocacy groups rallying behind 2020 ballot initiatives.
The South Dakota Secretary of State’s office has confirmed that a statutory measure to legalize medical marijuana in South Dakota has qualified for the state’s 2020 ballot. Six other states could be on the brink of following suit this year.
Before the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and made it possible to sell hemp extract cannabidiol (CBD), there was medical marijuana. It led the charge as far as overhauling marijuana’s image was concerned, and on top of that, helped tons of people recuperate from a variety of medical conditions.
The South Dakota proposal, now officially referred to as Initiated Measure 26, was facilitated by activists who collected more than 30,000 signatures for the petition last month.
“Our office conducted a random sample of the petition signatures and found 74.65 percent to be valid,” said South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett.
Aside from the medical marijuana measure, there’s a second measure to legalize adult-use marijuana that the organizers hope will reach the signature threshold in time for next year’s vote. Both of the measures are backed by national advocacy groups Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and New Approach PAC.
“Across the country, voters are recognizing that it makes no sense to waste law enforcement resources on arresting adults for marijuana possession and that it also makes no sense to force marijuana sales into an unregulated illicit market,” said MPP Deputy Director Matthew Schweich.“Simply put, legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana is the public policy decision that best serves the interests of public health and public safety.”
Schweich said voters will have the opportunity to approve a ballot initiative that would provide legal, safe, and regulated access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients.
Schweich argues that right now, the state government is forcing otherwise law-abiding people to be criminals in order to live healthier, happier and more productive lives.
“We’re going to end that heartless injustice,” he said.
He hopes that the adult-use legalization initiative will also qualify for the 2020 ballot.
A wave of marijuana legalization has been sweeping across the U.S., and its genesis can be traced to Colorado and Washington approving marijuana legalization initiatives way back in 2012. In each biennial election that followed, additional states followed through with their own marijuana legalization initiatives, and experts believe 2020 will be a landmark year for marijuana.
Marijuana advocates say there could be up to 26 states where voters might have to vote on marijuana initiatives, either for full-scale recreational legalization, legalization of medical cannabis or decriminalization this year.
MORE COULD FOLLOW
In addition to North Dakota, there are six states that could approve marijuana legalization ballot initiatives in 2020.
Arizona voters will decide on an initiative dubbed “Smart & Safe Arizona” led by a group of Arizona medical cannabis companies. It will allow people 21 and older to possess, consume, cultivate and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers. Individuals with prior marijuana convictions could have their records expunged, and some tax revenue from legal sales will be used to invest in communities disproportionately affected by prohibition.
The fight for legalization in Florida started in 2016 when voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize medical cannabis. An advocacy group called Make It Legal Florida is seeking to push it further. It is working to place a full-scale marijuana legalization measure for the 2020 ballot that would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. It is backed by cannabis companies like MedMen and Parallel.
The Idaho Cannabis Coalition is pushing a proposal that would allow approved patients and their caregivers to possess up to four ounces of marijuana, and it would establish a system of licensed and regulated growers, processors, testers and retail dispensaries. The organizers would have to collect 55,057 valid signatures from voters for the measure to qualify for the ballot.
Mississippi activists have already filed a measure for medical cannabis for 2020’s ballot, along with what they say is more than enough signatures for the measure to qualify. If approved, it will allow patients with any of 22 conditions, including chronic pain and PTSD, to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period.
Missouri voters already approved a medical cannabis measure back in 2018, and activists are looking to expand upon it with broader marijuana legalization. Several proposed measures to end prohibition have been filed with the secretary of state. Still, they lack significant push, and they need groups with enough funding to get them off the ground.
Oklahoma voters approved a medical cannabis ballot last year during a midterm primary election. Activists are now looking to expand the measure with a broader marijuana legalization initiative this year. The effort is backed by the National New Approach PAC, and it will have to collect 178,000 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot. The measure would allow people 21 and over to possess, cultivate and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers.
For more information on legal medical marijuana U.S. states and jurisdictions, visit Procon.org.