The cannabis community is celebrating multiple historic victories today as the march to decriminalize drugs spreads further across the nation — despite continued federal prohibition.
Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota are the latest states to legalize adult-use cannabis, with South Dakota becoming the first state to authorize both medical and recreational marijuana sales at the same time. And Mississippi joins 34 other states in legalizing medicinal cannabis.
Additionally, Oregon voted to decriminalize small amounts of all drugs and legalized therapeutic use of psilocybin, while Washington, D.C. voted to decriminalize psychedelic plants.
Recreational cannabis is legal in 15 states plus the District of Columbia, while medical use will be permitted in 35 states plus D.C.
In Arizona, voters decided by a 60% to 40% margin in favor of Proposition 207, an initiative legalizing the recreational possession and use of marijuana by adults aged 21 and over.
Proposition 207, Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2020) allows adults 21 and older to possess, consume or transfer up to 1 ounce of cannabis and create a regulatory system for the drug’s cultivation and sale.
Voters in Montana had two recreational cannabis items on their ballot, Initiative 190 and Initiative 118, and decided by a 57% to 43% margin in favor. The Montana Medical Marijuana Allowance, or I-148, legalized medicinal use in 2004.
I-190, Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2020) will allow adults in the state to possess and buy cannabis for recreational use and defined a 20% tax on recreational cannabis. It would also allow people serving sentences for certain cannabis-related acts to apply for resentencing or records expungement.
CI-118, Allow for a Legal Age for Marijuana Amendment (2020) will amend the state’s constitution to establish 21 as the legal age to purchase, possess and consume cannabis.
Mississippians had the option of weighing in on two versions of the Medical Marijuana Initiative: Initiative 65 and Alternative 65A.
Voters approved the citizen-led Initiative 65 by a 74% majority, which will allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for patients with any of 22 debilitating conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The constitutional amendment would establish a regulatory program for businesses to grow and sell medical cannabis and for the products to be taxed at a 7% rate.
Initiative 65A was the state legislature’s proposed alternative to the grassroots Initiative 65. It would have limited the smoking of medical cannabis to people who are terminally ill and was designed to leave the regulatory framework up to state legislature.
New Jersey became the first state in the Mid-Atlantic to legalize recreational cannabis, with Public Question 1 passing by a 67% to 33% margin. The state legalized medicinal cannabis in 2010.
Public Question 1, Marijuana Legalization Amendment (2020) legalizes the possession and use of marijuana for persons age 21 and older and legalizes the cultivation, processing and sale of retail marijuana. The amendment is set to take effect January 1, 2021.
Voters in South Dakota had two separate ballot initiatives legalizing both recreational and medical cannabis use. Amendment A passed by a 53% to 47% margin, and the medical initiative, Measure 26, passed 69% to 31%.
Constitutional Amendment A, Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2020) will legalize cannabis for all adults in addition to requiring state legislators to pass laws for medical marijuana use and hemp sales by April 1, 2022.
Initiated Measure 26, Medical Marijuana Initiative (2020) will establish a medical cannabis program and registration system for people with qualifying conditions.
Drug Reform in Oregon and Washington, D.C.
By far, the most innovative drug reform laws passed in Oregon. Voters decided to decriminalize small amounts of hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Oregon also became the first state to legalize the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms” – psilocybin – for mental health treatment in supervised settings.
Oregon Measure 109, Psilocybin Mushroom Services Program Initiative (2020) passed by 56% and creates a program for administering psilocybin products to people age 21 and older. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will be responsible for establishing the program and its regulations. Proponents said the move would allow the drug to be used to treat depression, anxiety and other conditions.
Oregon Measure 110, Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative (2020) passed by 59% and reclassifies possession of any drug to be a “lesser violation resulting in a $100 fine or a completed health assessment.” This means possession of small amounts of what have long been considered harder drugs will no longer be punishable by jail time. The law also funds drug addiction treatment from marijuana sales taxes.
In Washington, D.C, voters approved Initiative 81, which shifts police priorities by decriminalizing a wide range of psychedelics.
Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plants and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, does not legalize or reduce penalties for entheogens. Rather, it makes possession and use of entheogenic plants and fungi among the District’s lowest law enforcement priorities.
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Note: All cannabis ballot initiatives above have passed, but percentages could shift as ballots continue to be counted.