People of four more states may hear happy news striking their ears when the election results are on the floor. These states could choose to legalize recreational marijuana through ballot procedures.
Voters in Democrat-dominant states Montana and New Jersey and Republican-dominant states Arizona and South Dakota will vote considering the recreational marijuana proposals.
Mississippi, another red state, is reviewing the marijuana manifestos released by both political parties. Only two states of the 11 legalized adult marijuana use have brought the necessary change deploying the ballot initiative.
Polls suggest Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey support ballots initiatives.
The executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, Steven Hawkins, considers it a fresh breath of acceptance around the country regarding the controversial herb. The group focuses on many ballot initiatives.
The effort to legalize marijuana through ballot initiative has not been all sunshine and roses, but the pandemic has fueled enough support signatures for ballot voting. “We couldn’t gather signatures otherwise we would have witnessed six states,” Hawkins said.
“The ballot measures are one of the first-level processes in legalizing marijuana,” said John Hudak, deputy director at the Brookings Institution, who champions federal marijuana policies.
In case voters approve the proposal on November 3, Hudak said, the state legislatures would have to arrange a regulatory structure in all the approved states.
Marijuana legalization in Arizona
Arizona’s proposal permits adults 21 years and above to possess, administer, and shift one ounce of herb, and mandates creating a regulatory system for cultivating any marijuana cultivar and selling them.
The last proposal of 2016 couldn’t make it to the greener side, and it failed merely by three points. But this time around, the polls consistently seem to have majority support. The recent opinion poll has 56% support for the proposal and 36% against it among registered voters, releases Monmouth University Poll, a poll-conducting university.
As of now, Arizona is the only state to consider the smallest weed possession as a felony, a crime more severe than a misdemeanor, though the state has legalized medical use for over a decade now.
Gov. Doug Ducey, the party of the traditional elephant mascot, asks the voters to vote “no” and opposes the ballot measure’s idea.
Ducey fears the wholesale expansion which the legalization will bring. Furthermore, “the current medical legalization has been serving the people in health-related attention,” he adds in his for and against the ballot argument.
Julie Gunnigle, the democratic party’s face, believes if Arizona votes in favor of the legalization, it will have a tremendous cascading effect in the other parts of the country.
“Such is the anti-benchmark that Arizona sets with respect to recreational marijuana, that if it can do it, the rest of the country should be prepared,” she added.
South Dakota could make one giant leap by mankind
South Dakota could make a giant leap in comparison with other states. Other states have adopted multi-year paths where they initially decriminalized it, approved the medical use, and then went for full-legalization. Many states have followed the same algorithm for years.
But South Dakota is prepared to legalize both medical and adult-use in a single swift action— pushing two ballot questions in one fell swoop. The Republican-leaning state could be the first state to approve both the variants of marijuana at a single go.
Cannabis-possessors have to go through strict penalties for holding on to small amounts of weed.
Going by the Republican stand on full marijuana legalization, the Gov, Kristi Noem, opposes both ballot measures and has urged voters not to vote in its favor.
In her anti-marijuana ad, she said, “I’ve never seen anyone grow smarter with smoking pot. There’s no evidence it improves our communities and also has a bad impact on kids.”
Hudak, in response to the republican rebuttal, believes “it would be a pretty significant step toward understanding just how progressive people are ready to be, in unlikely states, around this issue, if the voters vote in favor.”