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News Brief: General Election 2020 and Marijuana

  Every election cycle comes with pressing issues, controversy, and political partisanship. The talking points of elections vary as the process remains the same. We, the people, take to the polls to vote on the issues at hand and the persons to represent us. Cannabis legalization has come to the forefront of conversations in our political environment. What was once a taboo subject, the marijuana revolution has reshaped our political landscape. 2020 is no exception. The United States has over 30 states with marijuana legalized for medical or recreational use. An additional five states have added cannabis initiatives to the 2020 ballots. 

  Arizona is looking to expand upon its medical cannabis legalization by adding recreational regulations. Proposition 207 or The Smart and Safe Act would legalize recreational marijuana for Arizona residents 21 years of age or older and create a regulated sales market.  It also requires portions of the taxes to be utilized in various programs such as public health, safety, and education programs. The proposition holds a sizable marginal lead in the latest polls. 46% of respondents are in favor of the proposal; 34% say they are against it, and roughly 20% remaining undecided on Prop. 207. 

  Mississippi has already decriminalized possession of cannabis in small amounts.  The states Initiative 65 would allow patients with qualifying conditions to obtain medical marijuana from licensed treatment centers. Initiative 65A does add a bit of confusion to the mix for voters. 65A states that only “pharmaceutical-grade marijuana products”  will be approved which do not exist within medical marijuana systems. The only pharmaceutical-grade marijuana products are FDA-approved drugs. Those few products are readily available to patients with a prescription. It’s highly unlikely products like flower and extractions would meet that definition. Many argue 65A has been designed to confuse voters and kill the initiative itself with its confusing language.  67% of the people in Mississippi are in support of marijuana legalization in some form but polling doesn’t reflect support for the entire initiative, its separate parts, or legal medical marijuana in general.

Montana has 2 bills on the ballot working in tandem. Initiative 190 would bring adult-use recreational cannabis legalization.  The bill also mandates the “establish a regulatory framework for cultivation and sales,” and taxation. Constitutional Initiative 118 would set Montana’s legal age to 21 for purchasing, consuming, and possessing cannabis. Initiative 118 is necessary for the state of Montana as state regulators define “adult” as a person 18 years of age or older. This would allow for the establishment of legal purchasing age. 54% of Montana’s population supports legalization in the latest pols while 37% are against the measures. 

  New Jersey first passed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act in 2010. The law legalized medical marijuana and established regulations around dispensaries.  10 years later, we are looking at “Question 1.” The New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Amendment would amend the state constitution to allow and legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older. It would also legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail cannabis. The bill is vague at best in describing the details including home grows, possession limits, and other regulations including taxation.  Polls show 66% of the New Jersey population supports legalization.

  South Dakota voters have the opportunity to take probably the largest single swing at cannabis legalization this election.  The voters will be casting their ballots on both medical and recreational marijuana. Constitutional Amendment A would bring recreational legalization the adults 21 years of age and older and Initiated Measure 26 establishes medical marijuana program for those with qualifying medical conditions including minors. Polls are divided. The medical marijuana initiative looks to have the strongest numbers with 70% in support of the measure. Adult recreational use on the other hand is too close to call. 

  The general election is upon us and the election day is less than a week away. Medical marijuana legalization has been and continues to poll well nationally and in the states that have put the question to voters. Support for recreational use for adults is rising. The march continues… but not just for legalization but for legitimacy.  Whether red or blue… one by one, the states are turning green.