November 4, 2020. ByNicole Potter
There was much at stake this election season, but the desire from voters to push cannabis forward was one of the strongest demonstrations of approval yet. Although the fate of the presidency still hangs in the balance, it is very apparent that states will likely never stop supporting cannabis initiatives. According to Marijuana Policy Project Deputy Director Matthew Schweich, a new day is dawning in the cannabis industry. “With the passage of these initiatives, one-third of the population now lives in jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for adult use, and 70% of all states have embraced cannabis for medical use. The federal government is out of step with a clear national trend toward legalization,” said Hawkins in a press release. “We can put an end to the social injustices and other harms that result from the criminalization of marijuana. While cannabis legalization is not the cure-all to end the war on drugs, it is a necessary step and would provide an opportunity for many long-oppressed communities to finally have a chance to heal.”
Check below to learn more about which relative initiatives made the cut (hint, it’s all but one).
Arizona Proposition 207, aka the “Smart and Safe Arizona Act”
Description: Proposition 207 will legalize recreational cannabis for all adults over 21 years of age. It will require a 16 percent excise tax on retail cannabis sales, and establish a program to help expunge cannabis-related convictions from residents’ records.
Description: Initiative 65 proposes a foundation for a Mississippi medical cannabis program to be built. People with qualifying conditions will be allowed to possess and consume cannabis, as long as they’re certified by a licensed physician. It will also allow medical cannabis to solely be provided by licensed treatment centers.
Mississippi Initiative Measure #65A, or Alternative 65A
Result: DID NOT PASS
Description: Measure #65A is a constitutional amendment proposal that would create the foundation for a medical cannabis program in Mississippi. Only terminally ill patients would have been allowed to smoke cannabis, and would have required licensed physicians to oversee treatment.
Description: Initiative 190 will legalize recreational cannabis in the state of Montana. The Department of Revenue will license and regulation cultivation, transportation and sale of cannabis. The measure will also implement a 10.5 percent tax on cannabis sales that will go to the state general fund to serve a variety of programs, and will create the framework for cannabis-related conviction expungement.
Description: Constitutional Amendment 118 will amend the constitution to allow the people to establish a legal age for purchasing, consuming and possessing alcohol and cannabis.
Description: Public Question 1 will allow for possession, consumption and cultivation of recreational cannabis for adults over 21 years of age
Description: Measure 109 will allow the Oregon Health Authority to create and manage a program to allow licensed medical practitioners to prescribe psilocybin mushrooms to adults who are over 21 years old.
Description: Measure 110 will expand drug treatment rather than arresting people for possession of small amounts of drugs. Paid for by current state cannabis taxes, the measure would boost treatment and support services, and would remove harsh penalties for low-level drug possession and replace them with a fine.
Description: Initiated Measure 26 will establish a medical cannabis program in the state of South Dakota, specifically for patients who suffer from debilitating medical conditions. Approved patients will be allowed to possess up to three ounces of cannabis, and grow a minimum of three plants at home. It will also establish legal cannabis testing, manufacturing and cultivation facilities.
Description: Constitutional Amendment A will legalize recreational cannabis, with a dated requirement to have the South Dakota State Legislature pass necessary laws for medical cannabis and hemp sales by April 1, 2022.
Where Americans Stand
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, 653,249 people were arrested for a marijuana law violation in America in 2016. Of those, 89 percent were arrested for possessing marijuana only. A criminal conviction changes a person’s life because it affects employment and financial assistance eligibility. For example, over 200,000 students lost federal financial aid eligibility due to a drug conviction. Once a person is charged with a drug crime, they must carry that burden for the rest of their life unless they qualify for expungement.
For many Americans, marijuana laws do not make much sense. Considering that alcohol is legal and kills an estimated 88,000 people a year, it does not seem fair to prosecute individuals for using weed which has never caused an overdose death. Unlike alcohol, marijuana helps ease pain and nausea for many Americans with debilitating conditions like cancer or multiple sclerosis. For some Americans, marijuana has helped them overcome opioid addiction.
Perhaps it is for these reasons that the majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, regardless of political party. Consider the following polls:
- In October 2017, the Pew Research Center found that 61 percent of Americans say the use of marijuana should be legalized.
- According to a CBS News poll from April 2018, 59 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legal, and 63 percent believe cannabis is less harmful than other drugs.
- A 2018 Quinnipiac University poll found that 63 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana and 93 percent support the use of medical marijuana.
America’s view of marijuana has evolved drastically over the years as only 31 percent of Americans supported marijuana legalization in 2000. Now, with medical marijuana legal in 30 states, and recreational use legal in nine states, the topic is a popular source for debate. Politicians on both sides are coming out to support legalization and win over Americans, and politicians almost need to get on board to gain support from the majority.