8 States May Legalize Marijuana This Year – Did Yours Make the List?
The calendar may say February, but 2012 has already been shaping up to become one of the most exciting years in marijuana law reform since Prohibition began in 1937. As days, weeks and months pass by, bringing us closer and closer to the November elections, it is clear that marijuana will become a highly debated, and heavily voted, issue.
Last week, we took a look at work that is being done by state legislators to reform marijuana laws at the state house, with several states deliberating medical marijuana, decriminalization or legalization bills, and others looking to expand on their existing medical or decriminalization laws.
In several states, voters are not waiting for their elected officials to end marijuana prohibition, and have taken to the streets to collect signatures to place marijuana legalization initiatives on their November ballots for voters to decide.
Many of these efforts are still gathering signatures, others are awaiting their signatures to be certified. In some states, like California, voters may have two separate questions to consider. Here are the states, and initiatives, that will likely come before voters in November:
One year following the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in California, voters in the state that pioneered the medical marijuana industry 16 years ago could be voting on not one, but two proposals to legalize marijuana
The “Regulate Marijuana Like Wine” initiative intends to repeal prohibition of marijuana for adults, strictly regulate marijuana, just like the wine industry, allow for hemp agriculture and products while not changing laws regarding medical marijuana, impairment, work place drug laws, or laws regarding vehicle operation. This initiative would also provide specific personal possession exemptions, require dismissal of pending court cases for marijuana possession, and ban the advertising of non-medical marijuana.
A recent poll shows that “Regulate Marijuana Like Wine” has 62% support among California voters.
The Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012 aims to repeal current state criminal laws prohibiting the personal possession, use, transportation, and cultivation of cannabis by adults 19 years of age and older.
During the first 180-days following the passage of the Act, the Legislature would be authorized to create the California Cannabis Commission to develop appropriate regulations for the commercial production and sales of cannabis, including licensing and taxation.
Individuals are allowed to possess up to three pounds and grow a 100 sq. ft. canopy without being subject to regulations. It maintains penalties for possession by persons under 19, distribution to persons under 19, and driving while impaired.
The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012 makes the adult use of marijuana legal, establishes a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, and allows for the cultivation of industrial hemp.
The initiative would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and six pot plants for people 21 and over. It would also create a regulated legal framework for commercial marijuana operations, including retail sales.
The campaign fell about 2500 signatures short of the necessary amount to appear on the ballot when the signatures were first certified by state election officials, but there is still time to collect the necessary signatures to make it onto the November ballot.
The initiative proposes a state constitutional amend that states: “For persons who are at least 21 years of age who are not incarcerated, marihuana acquisition, cultivation, manufacture, sale, delivery, transfer, transportation, possession, ingestion, presence in or on the body, religious, medical, industrial, agricultural, commercial or personal use, or possession or use of paraphernalia shall not be prohibited, abridged or penalized in any manner, nor subject to civil forfeiture; provided that no person shall be permitted to operate an aircraft, motor vehicle, motorboat, ORV, snowmobile, train, or other heavy or dangerous equipment or machinery while impaired by marihuana.”
A Detroit Free Press/WXYZ-TV poll found that 45% of voters support legalization in Michigan.
Also in Michigan, voters in the city of Detroit may vote on a city ordinance that would legalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana by adults on private property.
If passed, a the initiative would create a constitutional amendment which would regulate cannabis like alcohol, provide access to medicine for cannabis patients, and open a market for farming industrial hemp in Missouri.
The initiative calls for marijuana legalization for persons 21 and over, a process for licensing marijuana production and sales establishments, and allows the legislature to enact a tax of $100 a pound on retail sales. It also includes a provision lifting criminal justice system sanctions against people imprisoned or under state supervision for nonviolent marijuana offenses that would no longer be illegal and the expunging of all criminal records for such offenses. The initiative would also allow for the use of marijuana for medical reasons by minors with parental consent.
Constitutional Initiative No.110 (CI-110) is short and sweet. It would add two sentences to the state constitution: “Adults have the right to responsibly purchase, consume, produce, and possess marijuana, subject to reasonable limitations, regulations, and taxation. Except for actions that endanger minors, children, or public safety, no criminal offense or penalty of this state shall apply to such activities.”
Provoked by heavy-handed federal raids and prosecutions aimed at medical marijuana providers and prodded on by the Republican-dominated state legislature’s virtual repeal-disguised-as-reform of the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law, this is largely the same group of activists and supporters who last summer and fall organized the successful signature-gathering campaign to put the IR-24 initiative on the November 2012 ballot. That initiative seeks to undo the legislature’s destruction of the state medical marijuana distribution network.
Add Proposition 19 to the Nebraska Constitution whose object is to regulate and tax all commercial uses of cannabis, also known as marijuana, and to remove all laws regulating the private, noncommercial use of cannabis.
Activists in Oregon are serious about legalizing marijuana. There are currently three different marijuana legalization initiative campaigns aimed at the November 2012 ballot underway there and, this year, there are signs the state’s fractious marijuana community is going to try to overcome sectarian differences and unify so that the overarching goal — freeing the weed — can be attained.
Of the three campaigns, these two seem likely to make the ballot.
The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012 is a citizen’s initiative campaign to regulate marijuana and restore hemp. Just as ending alcohol prohibition and regulating that market has protected society, regulating marijuana will help wipe out crime.
Restoring hemp, made from the seeds and stems of the marijuana plant for fuel, fiber and food, will put Oregon on the cutting edge of exciting new sustainable green industries and create untold multitudes of new jobs.
Currently known as IP-24, the measure would allow adults over 21 to use marijuana for personal use without fear of criminal sanctions. The bill has substantial safeguards to protect children and public safety.
With hundreds of signature gatherers on the streets every day, CSLE is confident the measure will appear on the November 2012 ballot.
Washington’s I-502 has already been certified to appear on the November ballot, and it is perhaps the most controversial legalization bill among the cannabis community.
Washington State Initiative Measure No. 502 (I-502) would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.
The initiative campaign is being run by New Approach Washington, which has brought together an impressive roster of endorsers and supporters, including TV personality and travel writer Rick Steves, former US Attorney for Western Washington, and a number of current and former state elected officials.
While most of the opposition to the initiative so far is coming from the usual suspects—law enforcement, drug treatment providers—some of it is coming from a segment of the state’s medical marijuana community, which worries that the measure’s setting a limit on THC levels to determine impairment in drivers could result in non-impaired patients being prosecuted.
But Dr. Kim Thorburn, Spokane County’s former top public-health official, who spoke in support of the initiative, said those concerns were overblown.”In order to be stopped for impaired driving you have to show impairment,” she said. “This is not a concern for medical-marijuana users and has been kind of a red herring that has been raised.”