4 States to Decide on Marijuana Ballot Initiatives This Fall
Nine states have legalized marijuana for so-called recreational use since 2012, including eight at the ballot box. Thirty-one states have authorized the drug for medical purposes. Four states have marijuana ballot questions this fall. Here’s a look at them:
The proposal would amend state law to make recreational marijuana legal a decade after voters approved it medically. People 21 and older could possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana outside their home or up to 10 ounces (283 grams) within their residence, where they could grow up to 12 plants.
A 10 percent tax on marijuana would be assessed by retailers, on top of the 6 percent state sales tax. Seventy percent of the revenue would be split between K-12 schools and road projects. Municipalities that authorize marijuana businesses would get 15 percent, and affected counties would receive 15 percent. There would be six categories of state-licensed marijuana businesses: retailers, testing facilities, transporters, processors, microbusinesses and growers.
People under 21 who possess marijuana would be assessed a civil infraction. Employers still could fire or take other disciplinary measures against employees for working while under the influence of marijuana. Smoking or consuming marijuana while driving or in a public place would remain illegal.
Three measures would allow patients with cancer, epilepsy and a variety of other conditions access to medical marijuana. Two would change the state constitution; the third would amend state law. If all three pass, constitutional amendments take precedence over state law, and whichever amendment receives the most votes would overrule the other.
One constitutional amendment would impose a 4 percent tax on the retail sale of marijuana, with the revenue going to health and care services for military veterans and to administer the licensing of medical marijuana businesses.
The other constitutional amendment would assess a 15 percent tax at the retail level while cultivation facilities would impose a separate wholesale tax on marijuana flowers and leaves. The revenue would fund a state institute to research cures for cancers and other diseases.
The third proposal would assess a 2 percent retail tax to be used for veteran services, drug treatment, early childhood education and public safety in cities with medical marijuana facilities.
The initiative would change state law to legalize marijuana for recreational use two years after voters allowed medical use. It would decriminalize non-violent marijuana-related activity for people 21 and older, including for growing, manufacturing, distributing, selling or testing the drug. Nearly 180,000 criminal records of those previously convicted of marijuana-related crimes would be required to be quickly expunged and sealed by the courts.
The proposal would not limit how much marijuana could be possessed, nor would it impose an additional tax on pot. A licensing system for businesses would not be spelled out under the measure, though the state is in the process of registering medical marijuana dispensaries. Unlike in Michigan, the nation’s biggest pro-legalization groups so far have not committed money toward the North Dakota effort.
People will vote on medical marijuana, but politicians, advocates and the Mormon church last week made a deal to legalize it under strict regulations regardless of how the ballot proposal turns out. If it passes, it will be revised under the terms of the agreement. If it fails, legislative leaders say they will get a new compromise law passed by the end of the year.
The deal creates a private, state-regulated growing and dispensing operation to allow people with certain medical conditions to use the drug in limited edible forms like chewable gummies, topical lotions or balms, as oils or in devices similar to electronic cigarettes.
Unlike other medical marijuana states, Utah’s proposal would not allow pot smoking or for residents to grow their own. Marijuana would be exempt from state and local sales taxes. Utah’s Legislature and governor earlier this year enacted a more limited law making it legal for people to use the drug if a doctor has determined they have six months or less to live.
Associated Press writers David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, Brady McCombs, and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City, James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.
The Associated Press