The 2018 general election is upon us, and with vital senate and house seats up for grabs, there are many parts of the country looking towards continuing the growth of medical and recreational cannabis. Here is everything you need to know to keep you up to date.
As the years go on, more and more people are warming up to cannabis, a far cry from what it was even a mere ten years ago. According to Forbes, a recent poll showed 66% of Americans are in favor of legalization, prompting the issue to become an unprecedented level of support from both party lines. The recent result of Canada’s legalization, as well as the amount of revenue coming from states like Colorado ($1 billion as of August!) are also fueling the fire for the outlaw of this plant to become a thing of the past. Because of this, several states will be voting on bills to make cannabis either medical or fully recreational.
Michigan looks to be one of the more likely states to go fully recreational in November. The bill, Proposal 18-1, would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over, and allow the use of not only flower but for concentrates, as well as cultivation (up to 12 plants). With this proposal would come a 10% tax that would be used for many commodities other recreational states have been using the tax for, such as infrastructure, schools, research and the cost of regulation. So far, support for the bill is very good, with the most recent polls showing a 61% in favor. With these numbers, expect Michigan to be the first state in the mid-west to become fully recreational.
North Dakota appears to be more of an outlier in the race for legal cannabis, having introduced a bill that would essentially decriminalize the growth, sale, or use of cannabis except for the sale of cannabis to people under 21. It would also require the expungement of any prior arrests or convictions surrounding cannabis, as long as they were non violent crimes. The problem with the bill is that there is nothing that includes the regulation of the plant, i.e., no mention of licensing for businesses or limits on possession. Support also seems to be all over the place, with several polls showing conflicting results swinging both ways in heavy favor and in heavy opposition. Credit North Dakota, however, for at least getting the ball rolling on some form of cannabis legalization!
The two other states looking for cannabis reform include Missouri and Utah, both of which are looking to join in on the medical cannabis parade. Confusingly, Missouri has three different proposals to legalize medical cannabis, two of which were introduced by individuals. For more information on this, check out this link. Utah is another big breakthrough for medical cannabis, as the state has been staunchly conservative on many issues over the years, cannabis surely being one of them. Their proposal would allow people with certain medical conditions (cancer, HIV, ALS, epilepsy, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, MS, PTSD, autism, and Chron’s disease) to qualify for medical cannabis. It also allows for state licensed facilities to grow, test, and sell. Support started very strong at a whopping 75% but it has quickly dropped due to key political organizations in the state devoting campaigns to oppose the bill. In any case, cross your fingers for Utah!
Other states like Wisconsin and Ohio will have cannabis related measures on their ballot, mostly minor. Wisconsin, interestingly enough, is doing a county by county vote of its citizens for legalization advisory measures, an act that will put pressure on the Wisconsin politicians and legislature to put full legalization on the ballot for 2019.
Last but not least, though, is our home state of California. While there are no statewide measures on the bill this year, there are still an astounding 100+ initiatives at the local city and county level that would affect dispensaries in your neighborhood. They range from setting local tax levels to the elections of hundreds of local council members that would influence the openings or even banning local stores and farms. While there are far too many to list, here is a handy link to peruse over the many (176 to be exact!) measures California is proposing this election cycle. Be informed! Your neighborhood may very well be voting on important cannabis issues that will directly affect you!
As with any election cycle, it is of the utmost importance to get out there and vote. At the end of the day, it’s more than just cannabis reform. Aside from the points I listed above, there are still many other measures to look over and many people to elect that can potentially change things for the better (or worse!) So if you haven’t already, make sure to make your voice be heard, and GO VOTE!
Authors Credits: Pete is originally from the mid-west and has been enjoying life in LA for the past eight years playing music and cultivating cannabis. You may just catch him playing with a variety of music acts at the many music venues across town, or even at the Staples Center watching the Lakers or Clippers! (provided the Pacers are in town :P)
Informational references courtesy of Forbes and Leafly.