Despite marijuana legislation initiatives receiving enough popular support in Mississippi, Montana, and South Dakota, opponents of legalization have begun taking steps in thwarting these legislations. Further troubles in marijuana legalization can also be seen in Nebraska and Idaho.
Among the threats to these legalization efforts include delaying if not outright stopping marijuana legalization in their respective states. Republicans in the state of Idaho are even going as far as trying to stop legalization entirely.
“You have to recognize we are in red territory, and that’s part of this,” said Matt Schweich, the deputy of Marijuana Policy Project regarding the recent political moves by the aforementioned state’s anti-marijuana politicians. “At the same time, we are living in a time when democratic norms are under assault. Politicians no longer feel they have to uphold the vote.”
Legal battles in legalizing cannabis are not new; even in more progressive states, issues have arisen regarding the wording of marijuana legislation bills have placed such bills into political deadlock.
Many legal observers and proponents of cannabis legalization believe that this is going to be the new norm from opponents of marijuana legalization.
Legal Issues Facing Marijuana Legalization: Nebraska, South Dakota, Mississippi and Idaho
In Nebraska, the state Supreme Court turned down a medical marijuana bill due to its violation of the state’s single-subject rule for ballot initiatives and measures. Under such rules, multiple issues cannot be packed into a yes-or-no question.
In South Dakota, while a legislative initiative for both medical and recreational cannabis legalization succeeded in receiving enough votes for both forms of cannabis, Republican governor Kristi Noem is currently filing a legal challenge against the voter-pushed legislation bill, citing similar reasons to those in Nebraska. Furthermore, she has announced plans to delay the legalization of medical cannabis by a year.
In Mississippi, a lawsuit has been filed against the voter-led medical marijuana legislation, citing a state standard requiring a ballot initiative to meet an equal amount of votes in each of the state’s congressional districts. The challenge is based on a signature-collection technicality; if successful, it would nullify every initiative conducted in the past two decades.
The most worrying sign of anti-cannabis action can be seen in Idaho. Earlier this month, Idaho’s state senate approved a bill that would ban any legalization bill going into the future.
Despite successful, direct democratic action driven by significant financial resources, time, and effort, marijuana legalization movements in these states are being challenged by social conservatives who continue making attempts to overturn the will of the people.
Potential Signs of Comfort in Montana
While lawmakers have resisted the bid for cannabis legalization in Montana, the state governor has been in favor of legalizing the adult-use of marijuana.
In a recent State of the State address, governor Greg Gianforte discussed using the tax money from cannabis purchases to fund opioid and methamphetamine addiction rehabilitation.
“So far, implementation is going fairly well,” said Schweich. “There is a little bit of an attempt of obstruction” from lawmakers, but not from the governor.”
The final result of Montana’s marijuana legalization could be indicative of how the other states will follow.
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