2022: Where Will Cannabis Be on the Ballot?
January 11, 2022
January 11, 2022
9 States Expected to See Cannabis Ballot Initiatives
Contributing writer: Dalton Valette
How is it 2022 already? Many of us are still thinking it’s 2020! But the years keep coming, as do the number of states making strides on cannabis. 2022 is shaping up to be a year that could see up to nine states pass cannabis legalization through ballot measures — and that doesn’t count the states that are expected to make headway through their legislatures.
Here are some of the most likely states to take the next step with cannabis heading to the voters, with two states working toward medical programs and seven for adult-use.
Arkansas voters already approved medical cannabis back in 2016, now the focus is on adult-use legalization. In 2020, activists attempted to put a legalization measure on the ballot but fell short of enough signatures to qualify to put the issue before the voters. However, activists are not done just yet with an eye towards this year’s election. Just over 89,000 signatures will be needed before July 8 to see cannabis legalization on the ballot.
Both Arkansans for Marijuana Reform and Arkansas True Grass are lobbying to make sure 2022 is the year for legalized cannabis in the state with True Grass already having collected over 10,000 signatures. As noted by Jesse Raphael of True Grass, Arkansas’ current medical program does have shortcomings, which should be alleviated by the proposed adult-use initiative.
Regulate Florida is sponsoring a measure to legalize adult-use cannabis which will need over 891,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. In 2016, 2018, and 2020, efforts had tried and failed to appear on the ballot. Multiple lawsuits occurred over the language of the ballot and activist groups were unable to reach the signature threshold necessary for ballot approval. Despite prior challenges, activists are confident about 2022.
Michael Minardi, an attorney for Regulate Florida, said if the initiative made it to the ballot, it would pass.
Advocates behind a measure to legalize medical cannabis tried to make the 2020 ballot, but their efforts fell short due to COVID-19 related signature-gathering complications and the state’s refusal to provide accommodations for petitioning. But 2022 is shaping up to be a different and hopefully better year for activists in the state with a petition already being filed by Kind Idaho.
Veteran cannabis advocate Russ Belville told Marijuana Moment that “people are ready for this.” If the effort passes, rules would have to be in place 120 days after the effective date.
Lawmakers in Maryland are moving to advance a bill that would see adult-use cannabis legalized in a unique process where it would pass through the legislature first then be approved of by voters in a ballot amendment. House Bill 1 is set to be introduced this month and be referred to the Judiciary Committee.
If the ballot is passed, the effective date for legalization would be eight months after the election, or July 2023. According to a Goucher College survey, 67% of Marylanders approve of cannabis legalization for adult use. Of note, 50% of Republican Marylanders support the measure for the first time in state polling.
Activists have already kicked off the Legal Missouri 2022 ballot initiative petition which seeks to collect enough signatures to see adult-use legalization be voted on. “It is finally time for Missouri to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana,” John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022 said at the December 2021 launch of the campaign. A similar effort was launched in 2020 but activists were unable to collect enough signatures necessary given COVID-19 challenges.
Medical marijuana in the state was approved in a 2018 ballot initiative by 65% of the state populous and sales have tallied more than $136 million since launching in October 2020. The adult-use ballot measure would create 144 new cannabis business licenses that would be awarded via lottery, with two-thirds going towards cultivation and manufacturing and one-third to retail dispensaries. The proposed program would also allow for expungement of records for those convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related arrests.
Already, Nebraska activists have started petitioning to get a medical marijuana measure on the state’s 2022 ballot. Enough signatures were gathered in years past for a medical cannabis ballot measure, but the state Supreme Court shut down the possibility of the measure reaching the ballot, justices determining that the measure violated the state’s single-subject rule.
Just over 200,000 signatures are necessary by July 8 for the measure to be included on the ballot with Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana seeking to have two measures on the 2022 ballot: the Medical Cannabis Patient Protection Act which would protect patients with serious health conditions and their caregivers from arrest for the use of medical cannabis and the Medical Cannabis Regulation Act which would create the Nebraska Medical Cannabis Commission to regulate private businesses providing cannabis to qualified patients. If this makes it to the ballot and is approved by the voters, regulations would be due by July 2023, and licenses awarded by October 2023.
North Dakota: Adult-Use
Activists in North Dakota hoped to have a measure put on the ballot in 2020, but their signature-gathering efforts were stalled due to COVID-19. Voters in North Dakota rejected a previous adult-use initiative in 2018 when 59% of voters chose not to support the measure.
Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2017 and support for adult-use cannabis in the state has increased since the 2018 ballot measure failed according to Marijuana Policy Project. With neighboring states of South Dakota and Montana having legalized adult-use cannabis, organizers are optimistic they will reach the just under 27,000 signatures necessary to appear on the ballot this year. They have already reached 10,000 signatures and have a goal of 30,000-32,000.
In December 2021, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted nearly 207,000 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State in hopes of initiating a 2022 ballot amendment legalizing adult-use cannabis in the state. This figure far exceeds the 132,887-signature threshold necessary to put the measure before the state legislature, who would then vote on it. Should the measure not be passed in the state legislature, the campaign would need to collect just over an additional 132,000 signatures to then be placed on the November ballot.
Tom Haren, spokesperson for the Coalition, said that Ohioans are eager to end prohibition and legalize the adult use of marijuana.
Activists in the state of Oklahoma filed another cannabis legalization initiative with the hope that 2022 will see the state legalize adult-use cannabis. Oklahoma legalized cannabis for medical use in 2018 with 57% of the vote. Like other states, efforts were underway to gather signatures in 2020 for a ballot measure but COVID-19 had other plans.
Michelle Tilley, the campaign spokesperson, said there is a broad coalition of support from small business owners, to small growers, users, and criminal justice reform supporters.
2022: A Year to Vote!
Every state will be having elections in ten short months, and two handfuls will have measures on the ballot focusing on cannabis. So, raise a joint to the new year and keep an eye on whether your state will be marching forward to bring medical relief, relaxation, and criminal justice reform to voters.
And, be ready to vote. Be sure you are registered to vote, and that you make it to the polls in November.
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