The 2016 Election is the Biggest Election in the History of Cannabis Policy in the United States
The 2016 election is the biggest election in the history of cannabis policy in the United States. There are ten states voting on recreational or medical cannabis legalization.
California, Arizona, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts are voting on recreational cannabis legalization. Michigan has a legal challenge pending to try to get on the ballot in November, but unfortunately time is running out as Election Day draws closer.
Four states are voting on medical cannabis legalization for the first time: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Florida, and North Dakota, all of which would be huge reform victories. Montana is voting on medical cannabis for the second time, which is unusual to say the least.
Medical Cannabis Deja Vu in Montana
Montana is the fifth state voting on medical cannabis in November, but unlike the other states, Montana is voting on medical cannabis legalization for the second time after opponents in Montana's Legislature essentially gutted the medical cannabis program in 2011.
A long legal battle followed the passage of the legislation that rolled back most of Montana's medical cannabis laws, with the Montana Legislature prevailing.
In reaction to the loss in court, cannabis activists in Montana gathered signatures to put medical cannabis on the November ballot in an attempt to restore the program. The initiative will appear as I-182 on the ballot.
North Dakota Compassionate Care Act of 2016
North Dakota was not on a lot of people's radars until it was announced that the campaign had made the ballot. North Dakota has one of the lowest total valid signature requirements in the country, but it also is sparsely populated and spread out. That makes it tough to gather signatures.
The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act of 2016 has a 'halo provision' written into the initiative, which means that you can only cultivate cannabis at home if you live farther than a certain distance from a dispensary (40 miles in North Dakota).
North Dakota's medical cannabis initiative will appear as Question 5 on the ballot in November.
Florida to vote on medical cannabis again
Prominent Florida attorney John Morgan is back with the United for Care campaign team and another medical cannabis intiative.
John Morgan largely funded the 2014 effort in Florida which made the ballot, but lost by just 2 percentage points on Election Day. Florida requires at least 60% of voters approve constitutional amendments in order for them to become law.
As in 2014, Florida's medical cannabis initiative will appear as Amendment 2 on the November ballot. Amendment 2 would legalize medical cannabis, but would not allow home cultivation. Patients would be able to purchase cannabis from license dispensaries.
Arkansas also to vote on medical cannabis again
Arkansas voters will also be seeing medical cannabis legalization on the ballot in November for the second time, albeit not in consecutive election cycles.
During the 2012 election, Arkansas voters narrowly shot down a medical cannabis legalization initiative. A lot has changed in the last four years, and the Arkansans for Compassionate Care campaign is working towards pushing the initiative over the top this time around.
There is also a second initiative, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, that sounds like it may appear on the ballot too in November. Arkansas officials have not announced it yet, but the campaign manager told Marijuana.Com that there will be two initiatives on the ballot in November.
The Arkansans for Compassionate Care version has a 'halo provision' with a 20 mile radius surrounding dispensaries. If patients live farther than 20 miles from a dispensary, they can cultivate up to 5 flower plants, and 12 non-flower plants. Patients would be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces.
The Arkansans for Compassionate Care initiative will appear as Issue 7 on the ballot. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment will have to wait until it's officially certified to receive a ballot number.
Oklahoma very likely to be on the ballot
News broke this week that Oklahoma activists had gathered enough valid signatures to make the November ballot. There are still some hoops to jump through, but it appears that Oklahoma will be the fifth state to put medical cannabis on the 2016 ballot.
Oklahoma would be a very significant domino to fall if voters were to pass the initiative on Election Day. Oklahoma is in the heart of America, and at one time sued the State of Colorado to try to re-institute prohibition there.
Patients would have to be at least 25 years old, would be able to possess up to three ounces of medical cannabis, and would be able to grow 12 plants total (6 mature).
Missouri currently has a legal challenge that is still waiting to be worked out. But just as with the Michigan campaign, time is running out as Election Day approaches. The campaign is expecting an answer by the end of next month whether or not the initiative will be on the ballot.
If all five of the current states legalized medical cannabis, it would bring the total of medical cannabis states in America to twenty nine. There are currently twenty five medical cannabis states, but one of those is Montana (thanks again Sam Tracy for pointing that out!).
A sweep on Election Day would be huge because of where these states are located. The South and the Midwest is full of suffering patients who not too long ago likely thought medical cannabis reform was out of reach.
If you live in one of these states, do what you can to help the campaigns. Help spread awareness, and have conversations with voters to educate them about the benefits of medical cannabis.
How many states will legalize medical cannabis on Election Day this November?