A marijuana legalization initiative in Ohio received enough signatures to get on the November 2015 ballot, Secretary of State Jon Husted announced on Tuesday, much to the excitement of the measure's pro-pot supporters. If it passes, Ohio will become the fifth state (plus the District of Columbia) to allow people 21 or older to grow, possess, and use marijuana for recreational purposes, and it would be the first state in the Midwest.
But it isn't just Ohio that's gearing up for legalization in the United States. Seventeen other states have legislation in the works, including two others that have also earned their ways onto state ballots. Using data from Ballotopedia and local news sources, ATTN: compiled a list of the latest marijuana campaign initiatives.
Here is the current status of marijuana in the United States.
In this below map, red states allow medical marijuana and the green states allow both medical and recreational use of marijuana:
Here's the status of legalization efforts in the United States for 2015-2016.
The Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative may appear on the November 2016 ballot. Introduced by State Rep. Mark Cardenas (D) in January of this year, the proposal would expand the state's current medical marijuana system, allowing residents 21 or older to possess and use pot recreationally. Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization organization, has backed the initiative.
"We've seen issues with our medical marijuana system," Cardenas said, noting the challenges lawmakers face in passing amendments to the law. At least 75 percent of the legislature must approve changes to any voter-approved measure, he explained. "We have to be smart about governing. If it's going to happen, let's get ahead of it and make sure we have the conversations to come up with the best program possible."
The Arkansas Hemp and Marijuana Legalization Amendment may appear on the state's 2016 ballot. If approved by voters and passed at the polls, the measure would allow residents 21 or older to cultivate, produce, sell, and use cannabis for recreational purposes. Arkansas' Citizens Alliance for the Legalization of Marijuana, a grassroots pro-legalization group, has backed the measure.
"We the people of Arkansas should all begin to work together and press like never before for full legalization of the cannabis plant, it is the only chance we have to assure that the sick have their choice," Arkansas C.A.L.M. wrote in a statement released last week. "We must take this fight to a whole other playing field and leave the prescribing medications to the doctors and the medical professionals."
In 1996, the Golden State became the first in the country to adopt a medical marijuana system. Now advocates and lawmakers want to expand that system, introducing six proposals to legalize pot for recreational use—four of which have already received enough signatures to qualify for a spot on the November 2016 ballot.
Here are the initiatives that have already been approved for circulation: California Cannabis Legalization Initiative; California "Responsible Use Act" Initiative; California Craft Cannabis Initiative; and California Marijuana Control, Legalization, and Revenue Initiative. In order to qualify for circulation, petitioners needed to collect more than 365,000 signatures per proposals.
The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative may appear on the November 2016 ballot. If the proposal receives enough signatures, voters would have an opportunity to advance a statewide medical marijuana system, legalizing the use of marijuana for Floridians who have been diagnosed with "debilitating medical conditions." The state's Department of Health would be responsible for regulating and distributing pot, as well as issuing identification cards to patients and caregivers.
United for Care, a pro-pot campaign run by the People United for Medical Marijuana, has backed the measure. In 2012, the organization supported a similar proposal that ended up with 58 percent of the statewide vote. It needed 60 percent to pass. "The new United For Care push comes after a judge last week affirmed Florida's limited medical marijuana law, which would allow for the cultivation, production, sale and use of non-euphoric cannabis drugs for a limited number of illnesses, principally epilepsy," the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The Georgia Marijuana Legalization Amendment may appear on the November 2016 ballot. The proposal, introduced by State Sen. Curt Thompson (D) last November, would legalize the cultivation, possession, sale, and use of marijuana for recreational purposes for residents 21 and older. Tax revenue from pot sales would cover regulatory expenses; the remainder would go toward education and transportation infrastructure in the state.
The Idaho Medical Marijuana Initiative may appear on the November 2016 ballot. In order to qualify, petitioners must collect a number of signatures equal to six percent of the state's registered voters in at least 18 legislative districts. The campaign to legalize medical marijuana has been spearheaded by New Approach Idaho, a pro-pot grassroots organization. "In 2010, Boise State University conducted a survey that reported 74 percent of Idahoans support medical marijuana," the group wrote on its website. "Imagine what that number is today!"
Two proposals to legalize recreational marijuana for residents 21 or older in the state may appear on the November 2016 ballot: the Maine Legalize Marijuana Initiative and the Maine Marijuana Legalization Initiative, introduced by pro-pot organizations Legalize Maine and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), respectively. Petitioners would need to collect approximately 61,000 signatures to get the measure to the polls.
David Boyer, the director of Maine's MPP chapter, argues that the state would greatly benefit if the measure passed. "This is going to be an economic driver for the state," he told the Portland Press Herald. "It’s the shot in the arm that Maine needs. But we want to ease into this new market. We think it’s best to have a slow, responsible rollout to this new industry. Voters don’t want [marijuana] stores on every corner."
The Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative may appear on the November 2016 ballot. If petitioners collect enough signatures and the measure passes, adults in the state would be allowed to grow, buy, and use pot recreationally. It would be sold and taxed "like alcohol," proponents of the measure say. Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the national legalization organization, NORML, predicted that "[I]n 2016, Massachusetts will find itself in the crosshairs for cannabis reform."
The Marijuana Policy Project has also backed the measure. Last year, MPP spokesperson Mason Tvert said that the organization was "going to be spending the next year working to build a coalition."
"We really want to replicate the Colorado process, and not just the winning part. We spent six months drafting the best possible initiative, and the most effective system we felt was possible. That’s our goal in Massachusetts: to get a large group of stakeholders, and write the best possible law."
A Michigan Marijuana Legalization Initiative may appear on the November 2016 ballot. Backed by pro-pot advocates with the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Committee, the measure, upon voter approval, would allow residents 21 or older to grow, buy, possess, and use marijuana for recreational purposes.
"We want to do something in 2016 that will give Michigan voters the gold standard for cannabis reform," Jeffrey Hank, the head of the MCCLC, said in an interview with MLive.com. "We can look at other states that have done it, cherry-pick their best practices, and make the best law we can."
The Mississippi Marijuana Legalization Initiative may appear on the November 2016 ballot. If petitioners can collect enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot, voters will be able to decide whether or not the state will enact recreational pot laws that would include provisions that allow residents 21 or older to possess an unlimited amount of marijuana and grow up to nine plants for personal use. Tax revenue from pot sales would go toward regulatory expenses and funding for Mississippi schools and universities.
Mississippi for Cannabis, a pro-pot organization that led the campaign in support of the initiative, was joined by volunteers with the petition drive group, Team Legalize, in its efforts to collect signatures for the measure. "We want to legalize marijuana and decriminalize it," Kelly Jacobs, the petition organizer, told the Clarion-Ledger. "It's an adult discussion we should be having."
The Missouri Marijuana Legalization Initiative may appear on the November 2016 ballot. A legalization advocacy group, Show-Me Cannabis, has headed the campaign to collect signatures for the measure, which would make it legal for residents 21 and older to possess, grow, and use cannabis for recreational purposes. It would also give Missourians the right to manufacture goods from hemp.
In an editorial published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the paper's editorial board wrote that "[Legalizing marijuana] comes with all sorts of other problems, such as potential for increased abuse, conflict with federal law and border states that have different laws, and many of the same issues that are dealt with regularly with abuse of alcohol."
"But the nation is quickly changing its views on legalized marijuana," the op-ed continued, "and Missouri should thrust itself to the forefront of the debate, primarily because of its location in the center of the country and its reliance on agriculture and life sciences as major economic drivers."
The Montana Marijuana Legalization Initiative may appear on the November 2016 ballot. If it receives enough signatures and voters approve of the measure, the state would allow residents 21 or older to grow, possess, and use marijuana for recreational purposes. The Marijuana Policy Project's Chris Lindsey said that the legalization advocacy group had delayed legislation pending public outreach and fundraising efforts.
"During presidential elections, we see a broader segment of the population voting," Lindsey explained. "We want to give everybody a chance to weigh in on an issue like this. There are younger voters, and it’s no secret that younger voters tend to favor tax and regulated approaches for marijuana."
A Nebraska Medical Marijuana Initiative sponsored by NORML may appear on the November 2016 ballot. If petitions are able to collect enough signatures to get the measure on the ticket, Nebraska residents would be able to vote for or against a statewide medical marijuana system, which would be regulated by state government agencies.
A Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project, will be featured on the November 2016 ballot after petitioners collected enough signatures to get the measure certified. Backed by State Sen. Richard Segerblum (D), Nevada Cannabis Industry Association's Joe Brezny, and other industry representatives, the measure would legalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana; residents 21 and older would be allowed to use the substance for recreational purposes.
"Nevada voters have an opportunity to reset America’s costly drug war," the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote of the initiative. "It’s an important step forward in fixing a failed policy... If you are presented with the petition, and you’re a registered voter, sign it."
The New Mexico Marijuana Legalization Amendment may appear on the November 2016 ballot. If passed, the measure would allow residents 21 or older to possess and use cannabis for recreational purposes. The New Mexico state legislature would allow production, processing, transportation, sale, and taxation of pot in the state.
On August 12, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced that a state initiative to legalize recreational marijuana had received the require number of signatures to earn a spot on the November 2015 ballot. Should the measure pass, Ohio would become the fifth state to legalize pot for recreational use, plus the District of Columbia.
Led by the pro-pot organization, ResponsibleOhio, the campaign to get the measure certified drew bipartisan support; Ohio State Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney (D), NORML founder Keith Stroup, former Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher, and two descendants of President William Howard Taft are only some of the measure's backers.
"Legalizing marijuana for medical and personal use means increased safety because we will regulate, tax, and treat marijuana like alcohol," ResponsibleOhio spokesperson Lydia Bolander told the Columbia Dispatch. "We will smother the black market and use the taxes generated to help local communities provide vital public services."
"We will take the steps that so many other states have taken to decriminalize marijuana so that we are no longer destroying lives and our law-enforcement officers are spending their time investigating and arresting the real criminals threatening our communities... This is about safety, personal freedom, healthy choices, jobs and tax dollars for our communities."
The South Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative may appear on a 2016 ballot. Melissa Mentele, the founder of the South Dakota Family Coalition for Compassion, drafted the measure, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state, if it receives enough signatures and gets approved by voters.
Two marijuana legalization initiatives may appear on the state's November 2016 ballot—one for medical purposes and the other for recreational use. The former measure has been backed by Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws; the latter is being supported by legalization advocacy groups Wyoming NORML and the Wyoming Cannabis Activists. Petitioners from either camp would need to collect more than 25,000 signatures to get the measure to the polls.
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For more on the history of marijuana in the U.S. and why it's still illegal in most states, check out this video: