Cannabis Legislation Expected to Grow Voter Turnout This November
On November 6, 2018, voters in Michigan, Utah, North Dakota, and Missouri will be voicing their opinions on marijuana legalization, either medical or recreational, depending on the state. While there are already 31 states and the District of Columbia with some form of legal cannabis, when cannabis hits the ballot, it’s almost always a strategic way to get more voters to the polls, especially in a mid-term election. Also adding to the significance of this year’s election, both North Dakota and Missouri marijuana laws proposed through a number of measures and propositions are of particular interest to voters and the cannabis industry alike because they are a bit unusual.
Missouri cannabis legalization is expected to pass in some form for medical purposes only at this time, although which measure or proposition will pass is anyone’s guess. New Approach Missouri, or Amendment 2 Full Text Here, which is one of three proposed pieces of Missouri marijuana laws allows patients to grow their own medical cannabis, includes a 4% retail tax, the surplus of which is slated to aid veterans, and gives physicians the ability to determine which patients can benefit from the new Missouri marijuana laws. Amendment 3 Full Text Here authored by Ben Bradshaw, a local physician and personal injury attorney, has some unusual and potentially self-serving key aspects including a hefty 15% tax which would be funneled into a state-run cancer research institute over which the amendment gives Mr. Bradshaw full authority to chair as well as single-handedly select the governing board. The Amendment also denies patients the right to grow their own cannabis, which can be critical to affordability for those suffering chronic pain and illness.
Proposition C Full Text Here would alter Missouri cannabis laws to allow for medical use, and at a lower tax rate of only 2%, as opposed to the 4% tax rate in Amendment 2. The Proposition appears to have similar content to Amendment 2 on the surface with the exception of denying patients the right to cultivate marijuana at home. The biggest difference between the three options is that the Amendments are State Constitutional Amendments meaning in order to be changed, it would require voter approval again. The Proposition, because it is a new law as opposed to a constitutional amendment, could be altered by the legislative branch, which the author, lobbyist Travis Brown, suggests is more beneficial to being able to get the medical program up and running much more quickly. While he may be right about that, opponents have expressed concerns about his financial associates and the wording of the proposition giving certain people too much authority over licensing within their jurisdictions.
In North Dakota, the outcome of recreational use legalization remains unpredictable as little to no polling information seems to have been conducted as of yet. Measure 3, Full Text Here, is unusual, because there is no mention of any regulation, not even guidelines for State lawmakers to follow. There’s no limit on the amount of marijuana an individual can possess at a given time, only that they be 21 years or older in age and do not sell to anyone under 21. If this very open legislation passes, it will be interesting to see what additional legislation North Dakota puts in place to regulate the market, how long that process will take, and what transpires in the meantime while regulation ceases to exist. For the new Missouri marijuana laws, North Dakota legislation, as well cannabis legislation changes expected in Michigan and Utah, cannabis industry professionals such as our own TimberDocs experts are prepared to aid clients with customized SOPs to make your new or growing cannabis business compliant with whatever state legislation passes. These are interesting legislative times to be sure as we are seeing with the Missouri marijuana vote, where all three Amendments and Propositions could pass with a majority YES vote. While state law would mandate that the Amendment with the higher yes vote wins, there is not a clear protocol should the Proposition and at least one of the Amendments both be approved by voters. No matter what the outcome in all of these elections, TimberDocs is here to support you and make being compliant easier!