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Marijuana Legalization May Influence Election

by Hayley Hudson |  ❘ 

Marijuana Legalization On The Ballot

On election day, November 3rd, 2020, Americans will head to the polls to vote and determine if current president Donald Trump will remain in the White House. Republican president Trump is being primarily challenged by Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden. Across the nation, each state has a variety of topics on their ballots that determine future changes and progression for their state. In some states, marijuana legalization is on the ballot. It is believed that the presence of these amendments, as well as marijuana decriminalization, will influence voter’s decisions on election day.

States That Are Voting On Marijuana Legalization

As of October 2020, there are 11 states in which marijuana is fully legal. Thirty-three states also have comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana programs. On election day this year, 4 states can vote for the legalization of marijuana, and 1 for the legalization of medical marijuana.

Arizona

A vote “yes” on Proposition 207 on Arizona’s ballot will allow adults age 21 and older to, “use, possess, or transfer up to one ounce of marijuana.” Adults may also own marijuana plants to cultivate for personal use but are limited to 6 plants. This proposition will also amend criminal classifications and penalties for marijuana possession and use and allow, “courts to vacate and expunge certain marijuana arrests, charges, adjudications, convictions, or sentences.” A 16% excise tax will be placed on marijuana sales to fund public safety and public health programs, community colleges, and infrastructure.

Montana

A vote “yes” on Montana I-190, a Marijuana Legalization Initiative, will legalize the possession and use of one ounce or less of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. Individuals could own up to 4 marijuana plants to cultivate for personal use, but the plants must be in an enclosed area and out of public view. Marijuana and marijuana-infused products would be taxed at 20% to fund drug addiction treatment programs, conservation programs, veterans’ programs, and healthcare workers among other initiatives. If I-190 passes, individuals who are serving marijuana-related sentences may have their conviction expunged or be resentenced, depending on the crime.

New Jersey

A vote “yes” on New Jersey Public Question 1 would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for people age 21 and older. It also legalizes the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana. This ballot measure does not provide specifics on possession limits and home-grow rules, as the Cannabis Regulatory Commission would enact the additional regulations and laws. A 6.625% sales tax would be applied to recreational marijuana.

South Dakota

A vote “yes” on South Dakota Constitutional Amendment A would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older, as well as require the state to pass laws providing for the use of medical marijuana by April 2022. Adults could possess or distribute up to one ounce of marijuana and own up to 3 marijuana plants if they live in a jurisdiction with no licensed retail stores. For residences with multiple inhabitants, there can be no more than 6 marijuana plants per private residence. Citizens could receive penalties for smoking marijuana in public places and growing marijuana plants that are visible to the public, among other violations. A 15% tax would be placed on marijuana sales that would go to a general fund as well as funding public schools.

Mississippi

Mississippi has a 2-step process for voting, including Initiative 65 and the alternative Initiative 65A. Initiative 65, “proposes to amend the Mississippi Constitution to allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by Mississippi licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana.” A vote “yes” for Alternative Initiative 65A will require a medical marijuana treatment program to be put in place for people with one of 22 debilitating illnesses. Residents can vote yes for both, no for both, or one yes and one no for these initiatives.

How Marijuana Legalization Is Expected To Impact The Election

The presence of marijuana legalization on the ballots this year is expected to encourage more young voters to come out, as young adults who are finally 18 and can cast their vote are more likely to use marijuana than older adults. These young adults tend to lean Democratic, as the Democratic Party has been appealing to supporters of marijuana legalization in recent years. It is expected that marijuana legalization on the ballot could favor the Democratic Party in this election. As of October 30, 2020, BBC News reported that Biden has a slight lead in national polls at 51%, compared to President Trump at 43%. However, as the electoral college determines the winner of the presidential race, the results from the election may be swayed by states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas.

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