Recreational, medical marijuana on ballot in nine states
In five states, the ballot measures propose to legalize recreational marijuana use for anyone 21 and over.
Arizona: Proposition 205 would allow adults to buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants at home. The initiative would establish a new department that would regulate pot like alcohol and impose a 15 percent tax on pot sales that would benefit municipalities, schools and the state health department. Many business groups and the Republican-led government, including Gov. Doug Ducey, oppose the measure. Two recent polls were at odds — one predicting the measure would prevail, the other forecasting its defeat.
California: Proposition 64 would allow adults to possess up to an ounce of pot and grow six marijuana plants at home and levy various taxes on sales that would be deposited into the state’s Marijuana Tax Fund. Most of the money collected will be spent on substance-abuse education and treatment. Some of the fund would be used to repair damage done to the environment by illegal marijuana growers. Recent polls show support for the measure at about 58 to 60 percent.
Maine: Maine’s ballot measure would allow possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, as well as the cultivation of up to six marijuana plants. It would place a sales tax of 10 percent on retail marijuana. There’s been opposition to the measure from many people in the medical marijuana community, including local growers who feel they will be squeezed out of the market by corporate operations if the state goes fully legal. Polls indicate a close outcome, with the pro-marijuana side apparently holding a slight lead.
Massachusetts: Question 4 would legalize possession of up to an ounce of recreational marijuana and allow for home-growing of a limited number of plants. Sales of marijuana products would be subject to a 3.75 percent excise tax in addition to the state’s regular sales tax, and a commission would be created to regulate recreational marijuana. Massachusetts voters have previously approved medical marijuana and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot. Polls suggest public opinion on the new measure is closely divided.
Nevada: Question 2 would legalize possession and use of up to an ounce of marijuana and impose a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana sales, with revenue going to support education. For the first 18 months, only businesses that have medical marijuana certification could apply for licenses.
Twenty-five states already allow use of marijuana for medical purposes. Three more could join that group, while one of the 25 states, Montana, will be voting to liberalize its existing law.
Arkansas: Arkansas voters will have two competing medical marijuana proposals on the ballot, though both have faced court challenges seeking to disqualify them. Both would allow patients with certain medical conditions to buy marijuana from dispensaries, but they differ in their regulations. Supporters worry that having two proposals on the ballot increases the likelihood that both will fail. They face opposition from Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who once headed the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and from a coalition of lobbying groups that includes the state Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Farm Bureau.
Florida: Florida currently allows limited use of marijuana for terminally ill patients, and polls show voters favor a state constitutional amendment to more broadly legalize medical marijuana. The ballot measure, if approved by 60 percent of the state’s voters as expected, would allow its use for treating non-terminal patients suffering from debilitating conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. A similar measure was on the ballot in 2014 and received 58 percent approval, 2 percentage points shy of what was needed for passage.
North Dakota: The initiative would make it legal for North Dakota residents who suffer from one of several debilitating illnesses to use marijuana with a doctor’s permission and possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana for medical purposes from either a state-licensed dispensary or a personally grown supply. The state Health Department says the program would cost more than $3.5 million a year to operate.
Montana: Montana’s ballot initiative would undo the restrictions that a 2011 state law placed on the 2004 voter initiative legalizing medical pot in the state. Those restrictions include a ban on dispensaries, flagging doctors for review if they recommend marijuana for more than 25 patients a year, and limitations on what ailments qualify for the registry.
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Drone pilot program monitoring illegal pot fields have a six month trial next spring