This week, Politico published an article that looks at cannabis legalization efforts across multiple states in the US. Thus far, 19 states have embraced full-scale cannabis legalization with enacted recreational cannabis laws while another 19 states have moved forward with medical cannabis platforms. With most state legislative sessions coming to a close this week, November’s ballot initiatives remain the key vehicle to push cannabis reform in potentially transitioning states. Below we highlight reform efforts undertaken in states through 2022:
- In January, the state passed medical marijuana reform after seeing efforts fail during the 2020 referendum. The state is now amidst its application process for patients and businesses, with sales potentially starting later this year.
- Rhode Island. This past May, Rhode Island became the 19th state (and only state in 2022) to pass adult-use referendums through its legislature. As structured, the bill allows for 33 dispensaries in six regions, with sales expected to kick-off on December 1st.
- Maryland voters are set to vote on a ballot initiative calling for adult-use reform in the state later this year. The measure would require the legislature to pass a framework for the proposed recreational market, likely resulting in first sales in 2024, if enacted.
- South Dakota. In 2020, South Dakota voters approved legislation to enact both medical and recreational markets through the state ballot measures. However, the state supreme court later struck down the referendum as unconstitutional, leaving South Dakota residents with only a formalized medical cannabis market. Following up on this, South Dakota residents have re-submitted an initiative to certify adult-use cannabis in the state, with a proposed program that allows up to 1 ounce of possession and the ability to grow up to three plants if no dispensaries reside in their county/city.
- Licensed operators in the Arkansas medical cannabis program submitted a ballot initiative that will see state residents vote on adult-use reform as part of the November Ballot initiatives. The proposed legislation would allow Arkansas’s existing medical shops to add recreational sales at their stores on March 8, 2023, and the option to open another recreational-only location. Further, a lottery would be held to allocate another 40 additional retail licenses to serve adult-use customers.
- After efforts to push adult-use legalization through the state legislature failed earlier this year, an effort has been made to put adult-use legalization on the November ballot. Signatures were submitted this past May, however, it remains unclear if the initiative will pass the state’s requirement to collect signatures from all six of the state’s congressional districts.
- State voters will likely see adult-use legalization as a question on the state ballot later this year after advocates submitted twice the required number of signatures for consideration last month.
- North Dakota. After adult-use legislation failed to pass the state senate in 2021, last month saw advocates submit ~25,700 signatures (~10,000 signatures above the required amount) to place the initiative on the November ballot.
- Nebraska remains one of three states without any form of medical cannabis access in the US today. Earlier this year, advocates submitted ~90,000 signatures to have the initiative placed on the November ballot, however, disputes are currently ongoing regarding the state’s geographic requirements (which call for at least 5% of voters in at least 38 of the state’s 93 counties).