2016 National Marijuana Legalization Tipping Point
As we approach November 2016, it is our national marijuana legalization tipping point. I’ll be covering it all for the Cannabis Radio News on CannabisRadio.com. By this time next year, over 60 percent of the country could have medical marijuana and over a quarter of the country could have legalized marijuana for all uses.
2016 National Marijuana Legalization Initiative Possibilities
Nevada – On the Ballot, Good Chance to Pass
The Silver State is already on the ballot with a marijuana legalization proposal backed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) that they’ve branded the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA). Polling is scarce but officials believe the measure is likely to pass, as the state legislators have embraced and expanded medical marijuana there in recent years.
California – Great Chance to Make the Ballot, Good Chance to Pass
The Golden State is the big prize, as in all national elections. There, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) has the backing of all the major drug policy reform groups and the funding from billionaire Sean Parker to collect the signatures needed to make the ballot. Polling there shows that about 55 percent of Californians support legalization generally.
Massachusetts – Good Chance to Make the Ballot, Good Chance to Pass
A third MPP-backed CRMLA is fighting for the ballot in the Bay State. Massachusetts passed decriminalization in 2008 and medical marijuana in 2012, both with well over 60 percent of the vote. It could be closer in 2016, though, with recent polls showing above 50 percent average support.
Arizona – Good Chance to Make the Ballot, Questionable Chance to Pass
The Grand Canyon State also has an MPP-backed CRMLA, but faces a tougher battle in a state with noted anti-marijuana zealots like Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who once called an Arizona veteran “an enemy” for using medical marijuana. The people of Arizona disagree, with 45 percent who support legalization and only 13 percent who think marijuana ought to be completely illegal, according to an Arizona State University poll.
Maine – Questionable Chance to Make the Ballot, Great Chance to Pass
A fourth MPP-backed CRMLA in the Pine Tree State suffered a terrible setback last October when the Maine Secretary of State invalidated 17,000 of the almost 100,000 signatures MPP turned in. That left the measure with too few signatures to qualify. However, this week a Maine judge has reversed that decision and ordered the re-evaluation of all 17,000 signatures. If it can make the ballot, it almost surely passes, as a 2015 poll showed almost two-thirds of Mainers in support of legalization.
Michigan – Slim Chance to Make the Ballot, Good Chance to Pass
A grassroots group called the Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative Committee under the banner MILegalize is pushing its marijuana legalization initiative for the Great Lakes State. They claim to have raised over $600,000 and 260,000 signatures, but will need more to cover the goal of 253,000 after invalid signatures are tossed. That battle became more difficult when Michigan’s legislature changed the rules on signature gathering. But if it makes the ballot, currently 53 percent of Michiganders would support it.
If all six of these states make the ballot and win, ten US states will have marijuana legalization, comprising 84 million Americans, over one-quarter of the population.
Other State Legalization Initiatives
This list covers the best possibilities for legalization in these states based on polling, funding, and backing. There are other initiative groups, particularly in California (MCLR), Arizona (AZFMR), and Missouri (CRPA) still with, as they say in sports, a mathematical shot at the playoffs.
2016 National Medical Marijuana Initiative Possibilities
Florida – On the Ballot, Great Chance to Pass
In 2014, United for Care got its medical marijuana initiative on the ballot and garnered 58 percent support in the Sunshine State. Unfortunately, Florida’s constitution requires a 60 percent vote for amendments to pass. This time around, they’re on the ballot again as Amendment 2. Political flaws in the language have been shored up and recent polls show 65 percent support.
Ohio – Good Chance to Make the Ballot, Great Chance to Pass
While the Buckeye State defeated marijuana legalization in 2015 with a margin not seen since the 1980s, polling around the issue found nearly three-in-four Ohioans supported medical marijuana. MPP has taken the lead in backing Ohioans for Medical Marijuana’s medical marijuana initiative, which has passed its initial hurdle of approval from the Attorney General’s office for signature gathering.
Missouri – Slim Chance to Make the Ballot, Good Chance to Pass
Drug Policy Alliance has donated $50,000 to help out New Approach Missouri gather signatures to make the ballot with a medical marijuana initiative in the Show-Me State. But there are only thirty days remaining for petitioning and the group has only collected 58 percent of their 256,000 signature goal to make the ballot. If they qualify, though, a 2015 poll shows 64 percent of Missourians in favor.
Adding these three states to the current 24 states and Washington DC that recognize medical use of marijuana, there would be nearly 200 million Americans covered, or over 62 percent of the population.
2016 National Marijuana Legislative Possibilities
Vermont – Legislature Can’t Decide to Legalize or Decriminalize or Study Marijuana
Advocates have looked to the Green Mountain State as the one that may be the first to legalize marijuana legislatively. Gov. Pete Shumlin has called for a careful, measured legislative solution before activists place a more liberal measure on the ballot as an initiative.
But after the Senate had passed a limited commercial legalization with no home cultivation rights, the House Judiciary Committee rejected it in favor of decriminalizing home cultivation of two plants with no commercial rights. Then, the very next day, the committee rejected the decriminalization for a mere study on legalization. Then the House Ways & Means Committee adopted the Senate commercial legalization and added home cultivation.
Now a third committee is reviewing legalization and the Speaker of the House is expressing doubts that it will ever come to pass.
Rhode Island – Hearing for Legislative Legalization Bill Coming Soon
In the Ocean State, a bi-partisan group of legislators have proposed House Bill 7752 to legalize marijuana. The bill had its first hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, April 12. The Governor and the Speaker of the House are both open to turning the marijuana issue over to voters as a referendum. That bodes well for reform, as a recent Brown University poll found 55 percent of Rhode Islanders in favor.
Other States Killing Medical Marijuana Bills
According to MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org, there are at least six other states with active bills to legalize medical marijuana, but they are falling one-by-one. Nebraska is listed there, but its bill died just this week, three votes short of ending a filibuster with four senators not voting. Kentucky’s bill looks to be stuck in limbo. South Carolina’s bill was rejected last Thursday. Tennessee killed their bill at the end of March. West Virginia tabled their bill in early March, despite the pleas of a fellow legislator who battled chemotherapy nausea with medical marijuana.
2016 will be a watershed year in marijuana law reform and Cannabis Radio News will be there to cover and analyze it all for you. Join us live on Marijuana Election Night, Tuesday, November 8, 2016, on CannabisRadio.com.
About Cannabis Radio News
Russ Belville is the News Director for CannabisRadio.com and host of the live-streamed weekday podcast, The Russ Belville Show. With over 3,000 hours on the air, Russ is one of the best-informed voices on marijuana legalization and the emerging legal cannabis industry. With over a decade of marijuana activism with NORML and over 400 articles for HIGH TIMES online, Russ is one of the most-trusted and best-connected reporters on cannabis community issues. Cannabis Radio is America’s best source for podcasts on all things cannabis, for cultivators to connoisseurs and activists to entrepreneurs.