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5 States Poised To Legalize Cannabis At The Ballot

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On Election Day, voters will have the opportunity to turn the most densely populated state in the U.S. into the next haven for adult-use cannabis, while deep-red Republican strongholds may make medical marijuana a reality.

New Jersey could become the first mid-Atlantic state to legalize recreational cannabis, while voters in Mississippi, Montana and South Dakota will have the opportunity to vote between multiple measures that could shift the national cannabis landscape.

In Arizona, where a recreational cannabis ballot measure was narrowly defeated four years ago, advocates buoyed by positive polling and the continuing success of the state’s medical program are eyeing a win.

Vermont made history when it became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis through legislation, rather than a ballot question, in 2018. But the legalization bill alone did not provide for a legal cannabis marketplace, and a tax-and-regulate scheme did not become law until this month.

“When you talk about passing legislation, it brings up literally hundreds of questions when you’re trying to find common ground on how to regulate marijuana — about home cultivation, will there be a limit on licenses, what types of social justice provisions will there be,” Moffat said.

Garden State Sees Green

A thwarted effort in New Jersey to legalize adult use in the state legislature paved the way for a state ballot initiative that has received the enthusiastic support of the state’s Democratic governor, Phil Murphy

“Eleven states and Washington, D.C., are already reaping the benefits of the job creation, economic development and importantly, social justice reform that comes with legalization and regulation,” Murphy said in a recent video released by the NJ CAN 2020 campaign. “It’s time for us in New Jersey to join them.”

The New Jersey proposal, Public Question 1, would give oversight of the recreational market to the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which currently regulates the Garden State’s medical cannabis program.

The question would allow local municipalities to levy their own tax on marijuana sales, up to 2%, on top of the state sales tax of 6.625%, pending approval by the state legislature. A bill to exempt medical cannabis from the state sales tax was introduced earlier this year, and is currently in committee.

If passed, the proposed amendment to the state’s constitution will become effective in Jan. 1, and the legislature will be tasked with hammering out details about how the recreational market will be regulated.

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