Cannapolitics 2016: The States Voting for Legalization This Year

Currently, marijuana is legalized for medical use in 25 states. Cannabis is additionally legalized for recreational adult use in four states: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. There are big changes on the horizon for cannabis legalization throughout the U.S. this election season. This November, five additional states are voting on legalization of adult use, while four more states are voting on the legalization of use of marijuana for medical purposes.

States Voting on Legalization of Adult Use

The states in play for legalization of marijuana use for recreational use by adults are states where medical marijuana is already legal. Support for the propositions/questions on the ballots in these states is generally hovering between 40 percent and 50 percent, although some states (such as California) are more in favor of legalization of cannabis for adult use.

Arizona ⏤ Proposition 205 is the ballot measure to make it legal for adults over age 21 to purchase and consume cannabis products in Arizona (Proposition 200 legalized medical marijuana in 1996). The proposition is currently leaning toward passing with 50-40 percent in favor, however, the opposition’s growing funding may reject the proposition.

California ⏤ In California, the support of Proposition 64 for cannabis legalization for adult use is at 71 percent, and donations are extremely in favor of the ballot measure at 60-to-1, reportedly. As of October 2, 2016, approximately $17 million has been raised in support of marijuana legalization for adult use, as compared with $2 million raised by the opposition. However, the proposition has deeply split the medical marijuana community in California, which is concerned about the consequences for low-income patients.

Maine ⏤ The ballot measure for adult use legalization of marijuana in Maine is Question 1, which has 54-55 percent of voters in favor. Medical marijuana became legal in 1999, but recreational use has not been legalized despite several ballot measures over the past 17 years. Polling data for the 2016 election indicates that Maine could very well be the fifth state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The state’s Governor Paul LePage has expressed clear opposition to legalization of marijuana for adult use.

Massachusetts ⏤ Voters in Massachusetts were recently 51-41 percent against Question 4, the ballot measure addressing cannabis legalization for adult use. However, a WBUR poll showed a turnaround; now 50 percent of Massachusetts voters are in favor of the measure, while 45 percent are opposed.

Nevada ⏤ Question 2 on the Nevada ballot is the measure for legalization, and 51 percent of voters in the state are in favor of it, with 41 percent opposed. Medical marijuana was legalized in 2000 with the passage of Question 9. Polling suggests the state will pass the question to legalize adult use of marijuana. The campaign in support of recreational use has raised more than $1 million, while the opposition has raised $30,000.

States Voting on Legalization of Medical Use

Four more states may be joining the 25 states where marijuana is legal for medical use this November, but it’s close in three out of the four states. Support continues to fluctuate pretty drastically as we get closer to November.

Arkansas ⏤ Two Issues, number 6 and 7, address the legalization of cannabis for medical use on Arkansas’ ballot. An initiative to legalize medical marijuana in 2012 was narrowly defeated. November’s vote is currently split according to polling data, but advocates of legalization have been fighting amongst themselves so passage seems unlikely. A recent poll indicates 49-43 percent are in favor of Issue 6, while 53-36 percent are opposed to Issue 7.

Florida ⏤ Support for cannabis legalization for medical purposes has risen to 77 percent on Florida’s Amendment 2, but a significant amount of funding for opposition of the measure is expected. The design of Florida’s medical marijuana Amendment 2 is to allow cannabis as a treatment for patients with specific diseases. Polls show continued growth in support of medical marijuana legalization in Florida, so it’s likely that we’ll see the state added to the list of those legalized for medical cannabis usage.

Montana ⏤ Court-ordered closures of dispensaries throughout the state of Montana have initiated significant support for Initiative 182 for the legalization of medical marijuana use. This comes after the state already legalized medical marijuana in 2004, but the initiative was amended with Senate Bill 423 in 2011, which severely limited its function. Initiative 182 would repeal the more severe restrictions of SB 423, but the opposition has outraised supporters by three-to-one, due mostly to donations from the “No” campaign’s leader Stephen Zabawa.

North Dakota ⏤ There’s a lack of polling data pre-election on North Dakota’s Measure 5 for medical marijuana legalization, so it’s difficult to know where things stand. The measure is designed to allow patients with specific debilitating medical conditions to acquire medical marijuana treatments. The North Dakota Legalization of Marijuana Initiative was submitted for the 2016 ballot, with the intent to legalize recreational use of the drug, but it was not certified so the soonest it could qualify is for the ballot in 2018.

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