In these states, the legalization of recreational marijuana is on the ballot

In these states, the legalization of recreational marijuana is on the ballot

A recreational marijuana smoker indulges in smoking weed on April 14, 2020, in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York.

Bruce Bennett | Getty Images

Voters in several states — including four that traditionally favor Republicans — are set to decide Tuesday whether to legalize recreational marijuana, paving the way for its sale and cultivation in newly regulated markets across the country.

Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota could join 19 other states and the District of Columbia that have already legalized recreational marijuana. The votes come about a month after President Joe Biden urged state and local officials to follow his lead pardoning those convicted of previous federal charges of simple possession of marijuana.


In 2016, Arkansas became the first state in the Deep South to legalize medical cannabis. Now it could become the first state in the region to legalize recreational use if voters approve 4th editionwhich would create a regulated market for adults.

The measure would allow adults to buy up to an ounce of cannabis from licensed dealers and impose a 10 percent sales tax. Those funds would go to law enforcement, operations at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and drug court programs authorized by the Arkansas Drug Court Act, according to University of Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

It also allows 20 licenses to grow marijuana for non-medical use and up to 120 licenses for non-medical dispensaries, but lacks provisions for expungement of criminal records for marijuana convictions and for growing plants at home.

Issue 4, sponsored by Responsible Growth Arkansas, faced pushback from opposition groups, including the state’s Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has spoken out against Biden’s federal pardons.

“We need to make sure we don’t decriminalize drugs that harm Americans. The fact that drugs are illegal discourages use,” Hutchinson he said.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s former press secretary and a candidate for Arkansas’ next governor, also opposes the amendment.

A Talk Business & Politics – Hendrix College Poll shows that 50.5% support legalization, and 43% oppose it, while the rest are undecided.


If Maryland’s Question 4 passes, it will join neighbors Washington, DC and Virginia in legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

The proposed amendment it would allow adults to possess up to 1.5 ounces, or two marijuana plants, starting July 1, 2023. It also offers people arrested for possession of marijuana to have their sentences expunged and others serving time for simple possession to have their sentences reviewed. It would also establish a cannabis business assistance fund for small businesses, as well as minority- and women-owned businesses entering the adult cannabis industry, among other provisions.

A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll it was found that 73% of voters support legalizing the use of cannabis for people over 21 years of age.

Maryland legalized medical marijuana in 2013, and a year later decriminalized possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis.

If passed, Question 4 would take effect on July 1, 2023.


Missouri’s Amendment 3 would allow adults in the state to purchase and possess up to three ounces of marijuana and grow up to six flowering plants at home.

A 6% sales tax on recreational marijuana would go toward enabling automatic expungement for people with certain non-violent marijuana offenses on their records, veterans health care, substance abuse treatment and the state public defender system.

Amendment 3 also adds at least 144 new small businesses to existing businesses licensed and certified for medical marijuana in the state, according to Legal Missouri 2022, the advocacy group that sponsored the measure. New license holders will be chosen by lot.

The state’s Republican governor, Mike Parson, opposes the measure, calling it a “disaster.” according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

An Emerson College Polling and The Hill Poll showed 48% support the amendment among likely voters.

North Dakota

Marijuana legalization failed in North Dakota when it appeared on the ballot in 2018, losing by a margin of 41% to 59%.

This election, A new approach to North Dakota got the revised proposal back for a vote. Measure 2 would allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana; licensing of 18 retailers and seven cultivation facilities; introduce a 5% excise tax on cannabis; and allow individuals three cannabis plants to grow at home.

“The 2018 initiative was not written with enough safeguards in place,” said Jared Moffat, campaign director for New Approach North Dakota and campaign manager for the Marijuana Policy Project. He said the 2018 proposal lacked DUI guidelines and employee drug testing policies.

“We heard from many North Dakotans who voted against the 2018 ballots supporting Measure 2 this year,” he said.

North Dakota’s New Approach raised more than half a million dollars, most of which went to gathering signatures to put the proposal on the ballot, according to Moffat. He also distributed yard signs, mailed messages to voters and played radio ads.

South Dakota

South Dakota is the only state among the five where its legal pot proposal does not include creating a regulated market. Instead, voters will consider owning and growing at home.

In 2020, voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis, but the state Supreme Court overturned the results on a technicality, a move championed by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.

New proposal, Measure 27, would limit possession to one ounce of marijuana. Individuals could possess up to three plants at home, as long as they live in a jurisdiction where there is no licensed retail sale of marijuana.

According to ballotpedia.com, there are some differences between the 2020 version and Measure 27. In 2020, the proposal covered licensing, taxation, local government regulations on marijuana, and regulations related to hemp. Measure 27 stays out of these areas.

Fifty-one percent of voters plan to vote against Measure 27, while 40% plan to vote for it, according to Emerson College Polling.

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