Five States to Vote on Recreational Marijuana this November
The November elections are rapidly approaching, and marijuana industry entrepreneurs are watching closely the results of initiatives in five separate states that would pave the way for recreational marijuana dispensaries and more widespread cannabis cultivation. Voters in Arizona, California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusettes will decide whether or not marijuana possession, cultivation, and retail recreational marijuana dispensaries will become legal just as they are in Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Washington D.C. Here is an overview of the different recreational marijuana legalization intitiatives for 2016 that will be decided on this November.
Arizona: Despite many challenges and obstacles along the way, Proposition 205 which would legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona has made its way onto the November ballot. A lawsuit that sought to block the measure from placement on the ballot was dismissed by the Superior Court of Maricopa County, and the Arizona Supreme Court upheld this decision after the challengers appealed. If voters approve the proposition, Arizona residents who are of adult age would be allowed to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana, consume marijuana privately, and grow up to six marijuana plants. The proposition would also pave the way for retail recreational marijuana sales, imposing a 15% tax on cannabis sold at adult use marijuana dispensaries. The vote on the proposition is likely to be a close one. While a July poll showed only 39% of Arizona voters in support of marijuana legalization, the campaign in favor of Proposition 205 has raised a lot more money than the oppossition groups. The campaign for voting “yes” on Proposition 205 has amassed over three million dollars in donations, while the opposing campaign has raised less than one million. If Proposition 205 passes, revenues from taxes placed on retail marijuana sales will be utilized in part for education and public healthcare initiatives.
California: This November, California voters will decide on Proposition 64, titled the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. The proposition would allow for recreational marijuana sales and establish the right of citizens age 21 and over to grow up to six plants and posess up to an ounce of marijuana. A15% retail tax on recreational cannabis would be established, and a system for expunging the records of past non-violent marijuana convictions would be put into place. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, way back in 1996. If aproved, the taxes imposed on marijuana cultivation and sales could bring in over a billion dollars each year to California's strained budget, and could save the state millions by forgoing the expense of keeping non-violent marijuana offenders in prison. With millions more in fundraising donations raised by supporters and an August poll showing over 61% of California voters in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, Proposition 64 is very likely to pass.
Maine: It was a rocky road, but Question 1 which would legalize recreational marijuana sales, possession, and cultivation within the state of Maine will be put into the hands of voters this November. When supporters of the measure first submitted the signatures required to place Question 1 on the ballot, over half of the signatures were invalidated which left the group falling short of requirements. They challenged the decision and the ruling was overturned. When the signatures were reexamined in April, it was found that there were enough valid signatures to get Question 1 on the November ballot. If Question 1 passes, Maine residents age 21 and older will be able to purchase or possess up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana and grow up to 6 flowering marijuana plants at a time. It would also impose a 10% sales tax on recreational marijuana sales. With a March poll indicating only a little over 53% of voters in Maine in favor of legalization, the fate of Question 1 is unclear, but it's likely to be a close call whichever way voters decide.
Massachusetts: Voters in Massachusetts will decide on Question 4, which would legalize the possession of an ounce of marijuana, allow for the cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, and establish a sales tax for recreational marijuana sales. Although Massachusetts approved medical marijuana in 2012, the first medical marijuana dispensary in the state didn't open its doors until June of this year. That doesn't give voters much time to see the marijuana industry in action and gauge its potentials, so it may be tough for some people to make a decision on Question 4. While an April poll conducted by Western New England University found 57% of Massachusetts voters in favor of recreational marijuana legalization, a poll conducted in July by Gravis Marketing showed only 41% of Massachusetts voters in support of making recreational cannabis legal. If campaign finance is any indication of who the winning team is, Question 4 has a really good shot of passing. Supporters have raised nearly half a million, while the oppossition has collected virtually nothing. River Rock Wellness of Colorado is one of the top contributors to the campaign, donating $10,000 in support of Question 4.
Nevada: In Nevada, voters will decide on Question 2, would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and allow adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants. A 15% sales tax on recreational marijuana sales would be imposed, and consumption would be restricted to private areas which could include retail marijuana dispensaries. The tax revenue would be earmarked for use in the k-12 public education system. A poll conducted in July by a local news station found 50% of voters in support of Question 2, 41% oppossed, and 9% undecided, so it could really go either way and at this point, it's too close to call.
New Opportunities for Marijuana Businesses
The growing trend towards legalization opens the way for more marijuana businesses to thrive and profit. Entrepreneurs who are contemplating opening a marijuana dispensary, grow house, or other marijuana business in one of the five states who are voting on recreational cannabis should look closely at each state's laws now to get an idea of all the details and regulations, and how to start the process of applying for a marijuana business license. States like Nevada will limit the number of marijuana establishments that can open up in any municipality if their legalization initiative passes, so business owners wishing to cash in will need to be ready to act quickly once the votes are counted. CannaSaver will keep you informed of the latest updates and elections results, so stay tuned.