This could be a transformative year in more ways than one. Not only are voters heading to the polls in six months to decide who should become the next President of the United States of America, but voters in quite a few states could be heading to their respective state polls to decide whether or not to expand the use of medical or recreational marijuana within their state.
Whereas quite a few states are still mulling whether or not to add a marijuana proposal to their ballots this November, three states have already confirmed that a marijuana initiative will be on the ballot this fall.
Nevada – The only state that wasn’t a surprise heading into 2016 was Nevada, which announced in November 2015 that a legal recreational marijuana initiative would be on its 2016 ballot.
Like the recreation-legal states before it, Nevada’s legalization initiative, known as Question 2, would allow adults ages 21 and up to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana, and use the tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana to boost the K-12 education budget within the state. An excise tax of 15% would be enacted at the wholesale level, with existing sales taxes applying to the product at the retail level, too. Also, the state would require businesses to obtain recreational marijuana licenses, and would likely restrict the number of licenses issued.
Considering the success of Nevada’s medical marijuana industry, and the fact that it’s home to “Sin City,” you’d think an approval would be a no-brainer. But keep in mind that even “Greenest state,” Oregon, failed to win recreational marijuana approval on its first go-around in 2012.
Florida – “If it at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying.” This should be the motto of the medical marijuana campaign in Florida following the ever-so-close failure of a medical marijuana amendment in Nov. 2014. Because a medical marijuana program in Florida would require a change to its constitution, the amendment needed a 60% “yes” vote to pass instead of a simple majority. In 2014, 57.6% of the votes cast were in favor of its approval.
This year, as of late January, nearly 693,000 signatures had been collected by medical marijuana support groups to get an amendment on Florida’s ballot this fall. The result is the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, which is also known as Amendment 2. If approved, the Florida Department of Health would issue ID cards to eligible patients and regulate marijuana production and growing centers. Further, medical marijuana use would be limited to “debilitating” medical conditions as defined by a physician.
Florida’s older, retired population tends to have a more negative view of marijuana as a whole, but the growing acceptance of medical marijuana nationwide could provide the push to legalization in November. For what it’s worth, a poll released in early March from Public Policy Polling found that 65% of respondents are in favor of approving Amendment 2.
Maine – The most recent addition to the list is Maine, which announced last week that it had gathered enough signatures to get a recreational marijuana initiative, known as the Marijuana Legalization Act, on the ballot this fall.
Like other recreational marijuana states, Maine aims to legalize the sale of marijuana to adults ages 21 and up, would impose an excise tax of 10% on recreational marijuana sales, and could limit the number of licenses it issues to dispensaries within the state. What’s a bit different is it would allow users to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per the initiative. Adults may also possess up to six flowering plants in their household.
In an Oct. 2015 poll from Critical Insights founds that 65% of Maine voters support the recreational approval of marijuana, the same percentage of Floridians that favor the approval of medical marijuana. As a whole, Gallup’s Oct. 2015 poll found that 58% of respondents nationwide favor the legalization of marijuana.