The Maryland General Assembly on April 1 passed a bill that will allow Marylanders to vote Nov. 8 on a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing adult-use cannabis.
It is the first of what could be as many as 15 ballot measures across eight states in 2022 seeking to ask voters to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana.
The proposed Maryland constitutional amendment, however, is likely the only one of the 15 prospective measures to get placed on the ballot by legislative action. The remaining 14 will need to get there via citizen-initiated petition drive.
New Hampshire lawmakers are pondering a bill that would legalize the use and possession of cannabis by adults age 21 by straight legislative action. If they adopt the bill before their 2022 session adjourns, New Hampshire would be the 19th state to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
With 15 measures potentially going before voters in eight states, the number of states in the country that allow recreational adult marijuana use could top more than half after November. The legalization measures are polling well, including in deep red states like South Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas.
In addition, voters in Nebraska and Idaho—the only two states where medical marijuana is not even mentioned in state code—will be asked in 2022 to join voters in 37 other states who have adopted a legal medical marijuana program.
Maryland’s legalization measure is the only one now guaranteed to be on November’s ballots. The remaining 14 across seven states include five prospective constitutional amendments collecting signatures in Arkansas, three in Oklahoma, two in Missouri, and one each in Mississippi, Ohio, South Dakota, and Idaho.
A legalization ballot measure is also planned for Mississippi in 2023 and two are collecting signatures for Wyoming’s 2024 ballot. Below is a roundup of prospective 2022 state constitutional amendments seeking to legalize adult use of marijuana:
— Maryland: Under SB 833, adults 21-and-over can legally purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis and past criminal penalties for possession of up to 2.5 ounces would be expunged. Adults 21 and older would be allowed to grow up to two plants for personal use. The measure would not be enacted until July 2023.
Maryland lawmakers are also considering separate legislation this year to decriminalize drug possession and fund access to psychedelics for therapeutic uses.
— Arkansas: There are as many as five separate campaigns seeking to place marijuana legalization proposals before Arkansas voters this fall. It’s probable that at least one, if not several, prospective constitutional amendments will secure the needed 89,151 validated voter signatures by July 8 to get on the Nov. 8, 2022, ballot.
And if so, one or more could pass. According to a Feb. 7–8 Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College survey of 961 “likely voters,” nearly nine out of 10 Arkansans support some form of marijuana reform, with 54 percent favoring full adult-use legalization.
Here are four of the proposed recreational marijuana legalization measures vying to qualify for the 2022 ballot in Arkansas:
— The Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment of 2022 was filed May 22, 2020, by Arkansas True Grass. It would create a system of regulated sales for adults 21 and older, allowing them to purchase up to 4 ounces of cannabis and growing up to 12 plants for personal use.
— The Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment sponsored by Responsible Growth Arkansas and spearheaded by former State Rep. Eddie Armstrong (D-North Little Rock), would allow adults aged 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. Existing medical cannabis dispensaries would be permitted to sell in the recreational market starting March 8, 2023. Responsible Growth Arkansas has 35,000 signatures so far. They have to get more than 89,000 signatures before July to qualify.
— The Arkansas Cannabis Industry Amendment, filed Jan, 27, 2020, by Clair Danner, spells out how the industry would operate and who would regulate it.
— The Arkansas Marijuana Amendment 2022, filed Dec. 29, 2021, by Arkansans for Marijuana Reform, which is led by state NORML Chapter Secretary Melissa Fults, would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 4 ounces of cannabis flower, 2 ounces of concentrates, and cultivate up to six mature marijuana plants and six seedlings for personal use. Under the group’s proposal, the state Department of Finance and Administration would be responsible for regulating the program and issuing cannabis business licenses. They would have to issue at least one retail license per 15,000 residents.
True Grass’s and Arkansans for Marijuana Reform’s proposed amendments were originally filed for the 2020 ballot but their petition-signing efforts were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with sponsors refocusing on 2022.
— Nebraska: Vying with two prospective ballot measures seeking to legalize a medical marijuana program in the state is the Nebraska Marijuana Legalization Initiative filed by Bill Hawkins of The Nebraska Hemp Company on March 10, 2021. It needs 122,274 validated signatures by July 7 to get on the November ballot.
— Idaho: In addition to a prospective Idaho Medical Marijuana Act sponsored by Kind Idaho, The Idaho Way is sponsoring a proposed Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Act constitutional amendment. It needs 65,000 signatures to get on November’s ballot.
— Missouri: There are two prospective ballot measures seeking to secure the needed 160,199 validated voter signatures by May 8 to get on November’s ballot:
— The Missouri Marijuana Legalization and Automatic Expungement Initiative filed in March 2020 by Cannabis Patient Network writer Mark Pedersen would legalize recreational marijuana, prohibit taxation on medical marijuana, allow driving while under the influence of marijuana, and automatically expunge and release individuals convicted of nonviolent marijuana-related crimes.
— The Missouri Marijuana Legalization Initiative sponsored in August 2021 by Legal Missouri 2022 would legalize the purchase, possession, consumption, use, delivery, manufacturing, and sale of marijuana for personal use for adults over the age of 21; allow individuals convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses to petition to be released from incarceration and/or have their records expunged; and impose a 6 percent tax on the sale of marijuana.
Missouri voters could also see a proposed constitutional amendment that if adopted would dramatically expanded the state’s medical marijuana program.
— Ohio: An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Cannabis Use, sponsored by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol would legalize the cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home growth, and use of recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 years or older and allow them to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals would be able to grow six marijuana plants at home or up to 12 plants per household.
The initiative would also impose a 10 percent cannabis tax rate on adult-use sales and dedicate revenues to “a cannabis social equity and jobs program” to “provide financial assistance and license application support to individuals most directly and adversely impacted by the enforcement of marijuana-related laws.” A state Division of Cannabis Control would be established by the initiative to oversee the state’s cannabis industry).
By January, the Coalition had submitted 136,729 valid signatures. With 57 percent of the required 266,774 validated voter signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot, Ohio law allows lawmakers to essentially adopt the proposal as a bill.
But noting Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has indicated he’d veto any bill legalizing recreational marijuana, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said the measure was dead on arrival and he would not introduce it for Senate committee review, meaning the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol must secure the remaining 132,887 valid signatures by July 6 to put their measure on November’s ballot.
— Oklahoma: There are at least three recreational marijuana proposals seeking to secure the needed 177,958 validated voter signatures within 90 days after they are approved to circulate attempting to get on November’s ballot:
— The Oklahoma Marijuana Legalization Initiative: Sponsored by Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action (ORCA), the prospective constitutional amendment would legalize and regulate marijuana for persons aged 21 years and older and impose a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana sales for purchases by an individual without a medical marijuana license.
— Cannabis Commission and Medical Marijuana Regulation Initiative: Also sponsored by ORCA, it would create a State Cannabis Commission to regulate medical marijuana. This measure has been challenged in the Oklahoma Supreme Court and is “on hold.”
— The Oklahoma Marijuana Legalization and Taxation Initiative sponsored by the Washington-based New Approach PAC, would allow adults aged 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis, grow up to six mature plants and six seedings for personal use.
Under this measure, the current Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would be responsible for regulating the program and issuing cannabis business licenses; a 15 percent excise tax would be imposed on adult-use marijuana products, with revenue going to an “Oklahoma Marijuana Revenue Trust Fund.”
— South Dakota: The South Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative, sponsored by New Approach South Dakota and South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, would legalize marijuana use, possession, and distribution for individuals aged 21 years and older.
The measure is essentially 2020’s South Dakota Constitutional Amendment A legalizing adult use of marijuana that was approved by voters but overturned by a circuit court ruling in February 2021 that determined the proposal violated the state’s single-subject rule and constituted a revision of the constitution rather than an amendment.
Proponents need 16,961 validated voter signatures by May 3. New Approach South Dakota, which is affiliated with Washington, D.C.-based New Approach PAC, said in December it had 15,000 signatures and in mid-March, “well over” 20,000 signatures.
As of January, 36 states had passed laws legalizing medical marijuana and only two states—Nebraska and Idaho—had no medical marijuana laws whatsoever on their books.
Mississippi became the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana in early February when Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act into law shortly after it was adopted by lawmakers.
And South Carolina could become the 38th state to do so with lawmakers deliberating on the proposed South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, which would allow qualifying patients to use, purchase, and possess medical cannabis with a physician’s recommendation.
Nebraska and Idaho voters could get their chance in 2022 to adopt state medical marijuana programs while Missouri voters could see a proposal dramatically expanding their state’s medical marijuana program.
— Nebraska: Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) is sponsoring two prospective constitutional amendments seeking to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
They are based on the NMM-backed initiative that was removed from the 2020 ballot by the Nebraska Supreme Court for unclear language. Both must each secure 122,274 validated signatures by July 7 to qualify for the election after state lawmakers opted not to pass a resolution to do so. They are:
— The Medical Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which would protect patients with serious health conditions and their caregivers from arrest for the use of medical cannabis as recommended by a healthcare provider.
— The Medical Cannabis Commission Act, which would regulate private businesses that provide medical cannabis to qualified patients.
In addition to the two medical marijuana initiatives, a Nebraska Marijuana Legalization Initiative is also vying for the needed 122,274 signatures to get on November’s ballot.
— Idaho: The prospective Idaho Medical Marijuana Act sponsored by Kind Idaho would establish a program to allow qualified patients “diagnosed by a practitioner as having a debilitating medical condition,” to possess 4 ounces of marijuana or six marijuana plants.
The measure must garner 64,945 validated voter signatures by May 1 to get on the November ballot. It is essentially the same proposed constitutional amendment supported by Kind Idaho originally wanted on the 2020 ballot but suspended signature-gathering during the pandemic.
There is also a Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Act prospective constitutional amendment filed by J. Russ Belville and an Idaho Marijuana Legalization Initiative sponsored by The Idaho Way that are attempting to secure the needed 65,000 signatures for November’s ballot.
Idaho’s Republican-controlled legislature considered, but did not adopt during their 2022 session, resolutions seeking to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot that would bar the legalization of marijuana in the state.
— Missouri: The Missouri Changes to Medical Marijuana Program Initiative sponsored by Fair Access Missouri would change the medical marijuana program approved by voters in 2018 by allowing medical marijuana patients to grow marijuana for personal use, lowering the cost of a patient identification card from $100 to $25, and allowing up to three primary caregivers for a medical marijuana patient.
Mississippi’s House and Senate, both GOP-controlled, passed The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act 15 months after voters approved a ballot measure legalizing medicinal weed.
The voter-approved constitutional amendment was invalidated in May 2021 by the state’s Supreme Court, which ruled Mississippi’s initiative process was outdated and that the proposed amendment’s ballot language was unclear.
While the legislatively adopted medical marijuana program replicates much of what voters approved in November 2020, there are differences, including provisions for local opt-outs.
The voter-approved amendment allowed patients to purchase up to 5 ounces a month. Under SB 2095, patients will be allowed to buy up to 3.5 grams of cannabis per day, up to six days a week, or about 3 ounces per month. The law taxes production and sale of cannabis, requires plants be grown indoors under controlled conditions, and prohibits the state from “providing economic development incentives for the cannabis industry.”
In addition, the law gives cities and counties 90 days to opt out of allowing medical marijuana facilities for growing or selling.
“There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do significantly better if they had access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis,” Reeves said in a Twitter statement that concluded with a reference to Initiative 77, a recreational adult-use measure which sponsors are aiming to qualify for the November 2023 ballot.
“There are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that could lead to more people smoking and less people working,” Reeves said, “with all the societal and family ills that that brings.”
Mississippi Marijuana and Hemp Decriminalization Initiative sponsor Dr. David Allen must gather 106,190 signatures by the time the Mississippi State Legislature convenes its 2023 session next January to get the prospective measure on the November 2023 ballot.
The proposed amendment calls for the legalization of possession, use, home-growing of no more than 99 plants; impose a 7 percent sales tax; and allow marijuana smoking wherever tobacco smoking is permitted.