5 US states can legalize marijuana after the elections: how it will happen
In the interval between the presidential elections and the race of governors this year, there will be many important decisions in the elections. Among them, voters in five states will have the opportunity to legalize marijuana for recreational or medical use. Vox.
In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, voters will be able to legalize recreational marijuana. In the states of Mississippi and South Dakota (an electoral initiative separate from full legalization), voters will also be able to legalize medical marijuana.
If all of these measures are approved, then marijuana will be legalized in 15 states of the United States. When measured in terms of population, that would mean more than a third of Americans will live in states with legalized marijuana, up from more than a quarter today.
Voting initiatives represent a massive shift in drug policy. 10 years ago, marijuana was not legalized in any US state. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize cannabis for recreational use and sale.
Despite the success of state measures, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. But since the administration of President Barack Obama, the federal government has generally embraced the state's marijuana initiatives. Obstacles remain - the marijuana business remains a challenge due to federal ban, but for the most part, the federal government hasn't intervened in state laws since 2013.
Such policies could reflect changes in public opinion - ones that would make federal pressure to legalize marijuana very unpopular. Opinion polls show that even most Republicans, who tend to pass more anti-marijuana laws than their Democratic and independent counterparts, support legalization.
Therefore, proponents of legalization are optimistic about their prospects this year, even in historically Republican states such as Arizona, Montana and South Dakota.
Legalizing marijuana in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota
Four states will vote in November to legalize recreational marijuana. All of them will allow the sale of marijuana, which will create the same tax-regulated, commercialized system that has emerged in other states with legalization.
Here are the steps for voting in 2020:
Arizona: Proposition 207 will legalize the possession and use of marijuana by adults aged 21 and over, and will also allow the growing of up to six cannabis plants. Under the proposal, the Arizona Department of Health will levy a 16% tax on marijuana sales and regulate marijuana businesses from retailers to growers. Local governments can ban marijuana businesses within their borders. It would also allow people with marijuana criminals to petition to clear their criminal record. This is similar to the 2016 campaign that failed with a slight shortfall in votes, but activists believe support for legalization has grown since then.
Montana: Constitutional Amendment CI-118 will allow a legislature or electoral initiative to establish a legal age for marijuana. The legislative measure will allow adults 21 and older to own and use marijuana, allowing them to grow up to four marijuana plants and four seedlings for personal use. Measure I-190 will task the Revenue Department to establish and regulate a commercial system for growing and selling cannabis, while imposing a 20 percent tax and allowing local governments to ban cannabis trade within their borders. It would also allow people with marijuana criminals to petition to clear their criminal record.
New Jersey: Public Issue # 1 will legalize the possession and use of marijuana by adults aged 21 and older and will task the State Cannabis Regulatory Commission to regulate the legal system for the production and sale of marijuana. This measure is open to several fronts, including regulation, taxes, and home growing, details are left to the discretion of the state legislature for further details. The legislature put the measure to a vote after failing to pass its own legalization bill.
South Dakota: Constitutional Amendment A legalizes the possession and use of marijuana by adults aged 21 and over. This will allow up to three cannabis plants to be grown if people live in jurisdictions where there are no licensed marijuana retailers. This will allow the sale and distribution of marijuana with a 15 percent tax. Local governments will be able to ban marijuana businesses within their borders.
The measures in all four states follow the same commercialized legalization model, but this is not the only model. Washington, DC, for example, permits possession, use, cultivation, and gifts, but not sale (although the “gift” clause has been used, in a legally dubious manner, to imply a purchase with another item at an overpriced price).
Some drug policy experts insist on a legalization model that will prevent a large marijuana industry from taking root, fearing that such an industry, like alcohol and tobacco companies, will be irresponsible to market their products and make abuse or dependence possible. A 2015 RAND report lists a dozen alternatives to the standard marijuana ban, from appointing sales authorities to allowing only personal possession and cultivation.
Although marijuana is much safer than alcohol, tobacco, and other illegal drugs, it is completely safe. Inappropriate use and dependence are real problems, and millions of Americans report that they want to quit but cannot, despite the negative consequences. A review of research by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine related to cannabis use with other potential disabilities, including breathing problems, schizophrenia and psychosis, car accidents, academic and other social achievement delays, and weight loss at birth (if the mother smoked during during pregnancy).
It is these risks that pushed even some advocates of legalization to seek alternatives to the commercialized model. Opponents of legalization have also shifted to fears that marijuana could potentially be sold irresponsibly, leading to bad public health consequences.
However, advocates of legalization generally argue that the potential downsides to marijuana are so minor that the benefits of legalization far outweigh the problems of a ban, including hundreds of thousands of arrests across the U.S., the racial inequality behind these arrests, and the billions of dollars that go from the black market. illegal marijuana drug cartels who then use this money for violent operations around the world.
Proponents are winning this argument in more and more states, and it is usually done in a way that creates a commercialized, tax and regulatory system.
Medical marijuana in Mississippi and South Dakota
In two states, voters will have the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana, joining 33 states that have already done so. The interventions in these two states generally follow the same path as in others, allowing patients with certain conditions to receive a doctor's recommendation for marijuana and receive the drug at outpatient sites.
Here are the steps for voting in 2020:
Mississippi: The voting measure is split into two alternative initiatives. Initiative 65 details qualifications (22 including cancer and PTSD), ownership limits (up to 2,5 ounces), sales tax (7 percent), medical marijuana card costs (up to $ 50), and who will set the allocation rules (Mississippi Department of Health). Initiative 65A offers nothing concrete on all of these fronts; The Mississippi Legislature has put it up for a vote as an alternative to Initiative 65 and will fill in the gaps later if voters approve of the legislature's civic initiative.
South Dakota: Measure 26 will create a medical marijuana system for people with impaired health. Patients will be able to have up to three ounces of marijuana and grow three or more plants, depending on what the doctor recommends. The Department of Health will develop rules and regulations for distribution.
A review by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found little evidence of marijuana's ability to treat diseases other than chronic pain, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and multiple sclerosis. But most states have allowed medical marijuana to be used to treat other conditions.
Proponents argue that there is no time to get approval and conduct scientific research, which can take years to prove the benefits of a drug that is not very harmful anyway. Opponents, however, point to a lack of hard evidence. They say it is up to government health authorities such as the FDA to approve the use of medical marijuana, as is the case with other drugs.
On the subject: Study: Does Legalizing Marijuana Affect Harmonious Drug Use?
Marijuana legalization is very popular in the USA
There are very good reasons to believe that more and more states will legalize marijuana in the coming years: Legalization is very popular, and its support has been growing for decades.
According to Gallup polls, support for legalization has grown from 12% in 1969 to 31% in 2000 and to 66% in 2019. Polls by Civic Science, the General Social Survey and the Pew Research Center found similar levels of support.
Support for legalization is even bipartisan. Both Gallup and Pew found that a small majority of Republicans, with a much larger percentage of Democrats and independent citizens, support legalization.
Medical marijuana is even more popular, with poll support typically reaching 80 percent, 90 percent or more.
However, the positions of American political leaders do not coincide with public opinion. President Donald Trump opposes federal legalization of marijuana, having previously suggested leaving the matter to the states. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, has called for the decriminalization of cannabis - the abolition of criminal penalties such as imprisonment for possession, but not for sale. At the same time, he opposed legalization at the federal level.
Meanwhile, only Illinois and Vermont have legalized marijuana for recreational use through their legislatures. The other nine states that have legalized marijuana have done so by voting.
As lawmakers lag behind, voters will find another way to legalize marijuana for recreational or medical purposes - as five more states could demonstrate this year.
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