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Nov 4, 2020 3 min read

5 states vote yes on marijuana

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by Ben Hartman
A woman smiling in a cannabis field

Cannabis legalization initiatives passed on election day in every state that had a measure before voters, with voters in Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey approving adult use marijuana measures. In Mississippi, voters approved a medical marijuana ballot measure, and in South Dakota, measures approving both recreational and medical cannabis ballot measures.

The following are the results of ballot measures in the five states.

Montana set to legalize adult-use marijuana

Both ballot measures in the state of Montana were passed on Election Day, including Initiative 190, which legalizes the adult-use possession and provides for the licensure and regulation of cultivation and sales. The initiative passed with 56.9% of the vote, while a second initiative, which would set the legal age for purchasing and possessing marijuana to 21, was approved by 57.84% of voters.

I-190, the “Montana Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act,” among other stipulations, provides for “the licensure and regulation of commercial, cultivation, manufacture, production, distribution, and sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products” and approves “legal possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age or older.”

Under Section 27 of I-190, the state will impose a tax of 20% on retail marijuana sales. Section 36 of the bill will allow people to petition for the expungement of marijuana crimes or for resentencing. 

The other marijuana motion up for a vote on election day was Constitutional Initiative No. 118 (CI-118), which “amends the Montana Constitution to allow the legislature or the people by initiative to establish the legal age for purchasing, consuming, or possessing marijuana.”

South Dakota set to legalize adult-use and medical marijuana

South Dakota voters legalized both adult-use and medical marijuana in two ballot measures.

Residents of South Dakota voted on Constitutional Amendment A, “Title – An amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana; and to require the Legislature to pass laws regarding hemp as well as laws ensuring access to marijuana for medical use.”

Validated in January, 2020, the ballot measure was held following the issuing of a petition in 2019 that stated that “the amendment authorizes the state Department of Revenue to issue mariuana-related licenses for commercial cultivators and manufacturers, testing facilities, wholesalers, and retailers.” 

The amendment allows adults to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to three plants for personal use.

The other marijuana initiative, Measure 26, directs the South Dakota Department of Health to open a registration system for a medical marijuana program, and will allow patients to possess up to three ounces of marijuana. 

New Jersey legalizes adult-use marijuana

An overwhelming 67% of Garden State residents voted to pass Public Question 1, which would allow a constitutional amendment to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for people over 21, and legalizes cultivation, processing, and retail sales of cannabis. 

The initiative already garnered the support of Government Phil Murphy, who has argued that it would help generate tax revenue for the cash-strapped state. 

It will go into effect on January 1, 2021, after which marijuana retail sales will be taxed at 6.625%. The initiative also allows local governments to enact an additional 2% sales tax on recreational sales. 

Arizona legalizes adult-use marijuana 

A whopping 59.77% of voters said yes to Proposition 207, which would legalize marijuana use for people over the age of 21, and subject cannabis sales to regulation, taxation, and local ordinances.

The proposition says that the measure is “in the interest of the efficient use of law enforcement resources, enhancing revenue for public purposes, and individual freedom.”

Also known as “the Smart and Safe Act,” Prop 207 allows adults 21 and older to purchase up to one ounce of cannabis and grow six plants at their residence. Cannabis sales under the proposition will be subject to state and local sales taxes, as well as a 16 percent excise tax. 

Mississippi legalizes medical marijuana

An impressive 74% voters in the Magnolia State on Tuesday approved the more permissive of two ballot measures to legalize medical marijuana and establish a state-licensed system of medical cannabis dispensaries.

Initiative 65 stipulates that the state must begin providing licenses for retailers by August 15, 2021. 

Alternative 65A appeared alongside Initiative 65 on election day. The bill is set up as an “alternative” to Initiative 65 and is noticeably more restrictive. Mainly, there is no program start date, no list of qualifying conditions, no framework for how it will function, no set amount of marijuana for patients, and would basically not ensure the establishment of a functioning medical marijuana program.

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