The wait for the 2020 elections is almost over with early voting sessions already underway in various states. Although issues like the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, countrywide protests against racial injustice, and the future of Affordable Care Act were the top most highlighted issues during the election campaigns, advocates of marijuana legalization have strived really hard to get their voices heard amidst all the chaos. In an attempt to get public opinion on their stance and validate the status of marijuana, these proponents have managed to get the question of its legalization on the ballot of at least 6 more states in the 2020 elections.
Here is a brief round up of the legalization efforts and ballot initiatives put forward in these states.
This is not the first time that Arizona is going to put up the cannabis legalization initiative on its election ballots. In 2016, the legalization initiative was defeated by a mere 2.6% majority of the opponents.
This year, Arizona has placed the cannabis legalization question before its residents yet again in the form of Proposition 207. If it wins, the initiative will allow the possession, cultivation and use of marijuana to adults aged 21 and older. In addition to this, a provision to expunge past offences related marijuana has also been made.
In Mississippi, residents would be voting on two different and competing initiatives related to marijuana legalization.
While Initiative 65 has proposed access to medical marijuana for 22 types of qualifying conditions, Initiative 65A has limited the consumption of smokable marijuana only to the terminally ill.
Further more, Initiative 65A has also stressed on the pharmaceutical grade of medical marijuana. The right of amending any regulation are placed with the legislature under this initiative.
Medical marijuana is already legal in Montana. This year, the question of legalization is on the ballots yet again to take the process a little further.
One initiative would allow adults 21 years or older to purchase, own and consume cannabis recreationally. In addition, it has proposed a tax of 20% on sales that will be directed to national parks and wildlife.
The other initiative establishes the legal age of consumption, possession and purchase of cannabis at 21. What’s different in this initiative is that it does not position itself to establish an industry within the state.
In New Jersey, the legalization question will be put forward in the form of Public Question No.1.
Public verdict on the issue is very important in this state as it will have almost immediate impact on neighboring states of New York and Pennsylvania. Upon success, the proposition would legalize cultivation, retail, processing and recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 or older.
The commission already overseeing medical cannabis business of the state will be manage the initiative upon success.
South Dakota has broken previous norms set by other states in their legalization efforts. This is because the state is putting forward the question of legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana in one swift move under Measure 26.
Measure 26 aims to provide legal medical marijuana access to patients with qualifying conditions. It will put a registration system and medical cannabis program into effect if it gets enough voter support.
Additionally, another marijuana initiative called Constitutional Amendment A is also on the ballots.
Oregon has already legalized marijuana use in its jurisdiction. In the elections of 2020, the state will take voter opinion on Measure 109. This is the Oregon Psilocybin Program initiative that would allow the access of psilocybin to qualifying individuals over 21.
In addition to this, the state is also putting forward Drug Addiction and Treatment Recovery initiative that would expunge all criminal penalties related to Schedule I, II, III, or IV drugs.
Why more States need to legalize marijuana
Although 35 states have already legalized medical marijuana and 11 others, along with Washington DC have permitted its commercial adult use, the immense confusion due to different state policies and their contradictions with the federal law demand more to be done.
A classic example of this was seen in the case of Chris Bartkowicz , a licensed marijuana grower in Colorado. Despite of its legal status there, the cultivator was arrested. “He was in violation of federal laws and he had the intent to distribute marijuana.”
In his defense Bartkowicz said, “If I knew what I was doing was illegal, I would have never made a public display of myself. I would not have put myself in the line of fire if I was knowingly violating the law.”
There are undeniable legal disagreements even between different states that have granted marijuana a lawful status. Due to these discrepancies, marijuana users are unable to carry their products/medications across state lines. In some states where marijuana is legal, consuming the drug on federal property could lead to some serious charges by authorities.
In addition to this, current laws surrounding marijuana have fueled racial disparities in the country. Since the beginning of its ban, marijuana has been tout with xenophobia. Its therapeutic qualities were scarred in an attempt to tarnish Mexican immigrants, who were active users of marihuana. According to statistics, people people belonging to the African American descent make up only 34% of the American population, yet they makeup for about 13% overall arrests.