Find out where cannabis is on the ballot, and where efforts fell short
Legal weed feels normal for those in locales that legalized cannabis in the last decade. But not everyone has access to regulated weed just yet–though this election cycle might change that. Adult use is on one state ballot this year, while a surprising city cusps on decriminalizing possession through voter signature collection. In a few states, activists and groups are collecting signatures to get medical and recreational measures on the 2024 ballot.
Here is the latest on legalization efforts around the United States.
Cannabis legalization measures in 2023
It could be a close race in Ohio as voters decide whether to vote yes on Issue 2. The citizen-initiated ballot measure would legalize the sale and purchase of cannabis for adults 21 and older, setting up a state-mandated 10 percent tax on the commodity.
Two distinct camps have been set up on either side of the issue. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol leads the charge to pass Issue 2, while Protect Ohio Workers and Families has been rallying the opposition. The latter cites road safety as the main reason legalization would put Ohioans in harm’s way.
In a recent polling of Ohio voters, 59 percent of respondents stated they’d be voting yes on Issue 2 come November 7th. The poll was a small set, with only 638 voters weighing in. Despite the sample size, the polled group did feature a balanced but slightly Republican-leaning balance in terms of voting party. Just over half voted for Trump, and just over half approve of President Biden’s work while in office.
New Ohio Poll from @ppppolls
What does a conservative leaning electorate agree w Ohio GOP officials on? Nada:
✅ Issue 1 — 55% yes, 38% no
✅ Issue 2 — 59% yes, 39% no
❌ Gov. takeover of school board — 74% oppose, 13% support
— David Pepper (@DavidPepper) October 30, 2023
If passed, the ballot measure would allocate the 10 percent tax (on top of state tax) to five newly established state funds. The funds would pay for fixing the roads, first responders, and other public-serving projects. Local governments can opt out of having dispensaries in city limits, but how they can tax cannabis operators will be limited.
Down south in Lubbock, Texas, enough signatures were collected to submit the Freedom Act Lubbock, which will decriminalize minor possession in city limits. A week before the deadline, the group has collected almost 9,000 signatures–double the requirement.
The Freedom Act will be an initiated ordinance, which requires the local government to change the law. As Lubbock residents await news that the signatures were approved and verified, law enforcement prepares to cease persecuting low-level cannabis offenses.
Legalization efforts to look forward to in 2024
Floridians will be voting on adult use of cannabis in 2024 through a constitutional amendment. The amendment would legalize possession, distribution, and consumption of weed for those over 21. It would also allow medical cannabis dispensaries to transition into recreational stores. Home grow would be allowed, with a maximum of 18 plants per household.
The initiative is backed by Smart & Safe Florida, and has received major funding from interested cannabis businesses. Trulieve, which owns and operates 126 dispensaries in the state, donated half a million dollars to support the ballot initiative earlier this month.
Voters are taking the matter into their own hands in Nebraska as Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana seeks to get weed on the ballot for the third time come 2024.
It takes support from 10 percent of Nebraska voters to send an initiated constitutional amendment to the vote, which equates to about 123,000 signatures. The amendment would legalize cannabis by altering the state constitution. Signatures are also being collected for a medical cannabis ballot initiative, which requires seven percent of voter signatures before submission for approval.
Efforts to legalize through an initiated state statute continue in Idaho this year as Kind Idaho collects signatures for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Initiative into 2024. Despite legalized states and countries on every border, only THC-free CBD products are currently legal in the Gem State.
According to Kind Idaho, 67 percent of Idahoans support medical legalization. The group must collect 650,000 signatures by April 2024. They currently have 300,000–halfway there. If the measure makes the ballot and is approved by voters, it would set up a regulated medical cannabis system for qualifying patients and protect them from criminal persecution.
Over in Kansas, voters continue voicing their approval for medical measures. It remains one of the few states without any form of legal cannabis. Neighboring states like Colorado, Missouri, and Oklahoma have active programs.
The most recent poll from Kansas Speaks shows that 67 percent of voters would like to see medical marijuana legalized. Senate Bill 135 would regulate the cultivation, processing, distribution, sale, and use of medical cannabis. The bill was stalled as the state legislature took recess in May. This is the second session in which a medical cannabis bill passed the House only to be cast aside in the Senate.
We know that Kansans of both parties support expanding Medicaid and legalizing medical marijuana. It’s time for the #ksleg to listen to their constituents and send me two bills that I can sign this next legislative session. https://t.co/VdMWdfp5jh
— Governor Laura Kelly (@GovLauraKelly) October 27, 2023
While Kansas voters won’t be deciding on medical cannabis this year, based on the senate track record, they may need to get it on the ballot to see access to the plant in the future.
In some states, consumers are grappling with finding cannabis grown without pesticides or packaged in eco-friendly containers. But in other markets, people are seeking to have access of any kind to the plant. In the following year, the number of states without regulated cannabis may shrink if activists and marijuana proponents succeed.