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Cannabis at the Ballot Box: A Voter’s Guide

A box with a red check mark next to a pot leaf represents marijuana on the voting ballot this year.


Cannabis at the Ballot Box: A Voter’s Guide

This year’s general election is one that will go down in cannabis history. People in many states have made it clear that they want policy reform that results in legislation that doesn’t vilify or criminalize cannabis while others are adamant about gaining full legalization. Take a look at this list below for a quick guide to the issues.


Measure 2 seeks to tax and regulate the legal cultivation, sale and use of cannabis for all residents over the age of 21. If passed, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will implement parts of the bill and a Marijuana Control Board will be created by the legislature. Under the bill, residents of Alaska will be allowed to grow cannabis although the amount will be restricted once regulations are set. Public use will be prohibited.


There will be many different issues being voted on in a number of small cities and counties throughout California from marijuana taxes in Desert Springs and Santa Cruz County to lifting dispensary bans in Encinitas and La Mesa. Voters will also have the opportunity to grant reduced sentences and penalties for non-violent drug crimes through prop 47. This bill would change low-level crimes like possessing cannabis from felonies to misdemeanors which would not only benefit people’s lives, it could also save the state millions of dollars each year.


Counties, cities and towns throughout Colorado will be voting on local measure about marijuana policies that affect their region. The three main issues are regarding whether to ban dispensaries in certain locations, allow dispensaries in certain locations and whether or not there needs to be a shift in the state’s current taxation policies.


The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana initiative, also known as Amendment 2, would legalize the use of cannabis for patients with qualifying conditions as determined by a licensed physician. Acceptable conditions including cancer, HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating illnesses. The Department of Health would be in charge of regulating the medical program, from issuing official patient identification cards to defining reasonable amounts of use for medicating. The Department will also be responsible for registering and regulating centers to cultivate and sale medical marijuana. Patients will be prohibited from growing cannabis.


Proposal 14A would give Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services the ability to regulate a medical marijuana program for patients with certains diseases or conditions.  If passed, the department would have up to nine months to develop specific rules. They will be responsible for determining the criteria for how the program will run going forward.

Update: Proposal 14A passed, legalizing medical marijuana in Guam.


South Portland and Lewiston, two cities in Maine, will be voting on legalizing marijuana for adults over the age of 21 through ballot Questions 1 and 2 which simply asks: “Shall the Ordinance entitled, Use of Marijuana by Persons 21 Years of Age or Older, be adopted?” If the majority of voters are in favor of the change in policy, residents will be able to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis as well as paraphernalia. The measures don’t include cultivation or sale or cannabis.


A number of districts throughout Massachusetts will be including public policy questions that will affect the future of cannabis in the state. Public policy questions allow non-binding policy issues to be included in the ballot and help voters communicate their opinions to their officials. Though the language for the questions varies in each specific district, the policy questions asks the general public to decide if it wants cannabis production, sale and use to be regulated similar to alcohol or herbs, fruits and vegetables.


Eleven Cities in Michigan will be voting on whether or not to decriminalize the possession of cannabis. If passed, the measures would make it legal for adults ages 21 and over to have up to one ounce of marijuana in a private residence without facing criminal charges. Cannabis will still be illegal according to state and federal law outside of the areas where it has been mandated. The measures will only apply to local law regulations.

New Mexico

Bernalillo and Santa Fe County will include advisory questions regarding the decriminalization of marijuana on their ballots. Although the results are not politically binding, they will serve as a way to gauge voter support for the issue.


Measure 91 seeks to control, regulate, tax and legalize the use of cannabis for adults over the age of 21. Under the law, residents will be allowed to produce cannabis in their homes. Cannabis will be regulated similar to alcohol, although public use will be prohibited. If passed, the Oregon Liquor Control Board will oversee the program and set rules for how much can be purchased or be in possession at one time. The law will also legalize the sale of cannabis paraphernalia.


The Washington Elimination of Agricultural Tax Preferences for Marijuana measure, also known as Advisory Note #8, asks voters to decide if the state’s legislature should maintain or repeal agricultural tax preferences for cannabis. If repealed, the non-binding question will show voters support revoking the current taxing structure which treats cannabis the same as corn or wheat and, essentially, pass the costs on to consumers.

Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year, D.C. passed a bill that decriminalized the possession of cannabis and introduced a bill that would seal records for pot offenses. Now, voters are ready to take another things another step further with initiative 71. If passed, the bill would legalize the production and use of cannabis throughout the District of Columbia for adults ages 21 and over. Regulations would allow residents to have up to two ounces of cannabis, grow up to six plants at once and share (but not sell) up to one ounce of cannabis with another user over 21. The use and sell of cannabis paraphernalia will also be legalized.

How will you be voting? Tell us in the comments.

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