At the end of last year,19 US states were in the running to legalize the medical and recreational use of cannabis in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic will have taken the wind out of the sails of many popular initiatives that were unable to gather enough signatures to make it to the next vote in November. Despite the circumstances, 6 states may still pass a referendum to legalize, including 4 whose legislation has yet to be validated.
Arizona stands a strong chance to legalize cannabis. Residents of the Grand Canyon State have submitted signatures for the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, which would legalize cannabis for adult use and apply a 16% tax on cannabis sales. Most of the revenue from legal sales would go to fund community colleges, police and fire departments, and the state’s road user revenue fund.
Over 400,000 signatures deposited against the 238,000 remain unsigned before voting in November.
While cannabis banned in South Dakota, the state may be the first to legalize medical and recreational cannabis at the same time. Measure 26 is an initiative that proposes to legalize medical cannabis for people suffering from a debilitating disease. Also, Constitutional Amendment A would legalize the recreational use of cannabis and would require the South Dakota state legislature to develop regulations on the sale of cannabis for medical purposes and hemp by 1 April 2022.
As a somewhat conservative state, moving from being entirely illegal to legal in one fell swoop will be complicated. But medical access is likely to pass.
Traditionally conservative, Mississippi will vote for medical cannabis in November. Initiative 65 proposes to legalize cannabis for patients with one of the 20 qualifying conditions. However, consumption would be limited to terminally ill patients and would require increased surveillance. 77% of Mississippiensis are in favor of legalizing cannabis for medical purposes according to the latest surveys.
Montana’s Initiative 190 would legalize cannabis and apply a 20% tax on sales. It would also allow those already convicted of a cannabis-related offense, or those serving a sentence, to apply for a new conviction or amnesty. To date, signatures for I-190 have been collected, verified, and submitted to the Secretary of State of Montana.
Nebraska, one of the last American states without a medical cannabis program, could pass the test. On 2 July, more than 182,000 signatures were submitted to the Secretary of State of Nebraska to secure a constitutional amendment on medical cannabis in the November election. The measure would allow adults and children with the permission of a parent or legal guardian to use cannabis for severe medical conditions. According to a recent poll, 76% of Nebraskan voters were in favor of legalizing medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis has been legal in New Jersey since 2010. The state failed to legalize adult-use last year, and this year proposed a constitutional amendment through legislation, a referendum whose text is carried by the legislature rather than citizens. 62% of the population is in favor of the measure. The bill, therefore, has every chance of passing. If approved, New Jersey would approach $1 billion in annual sales by 2025.