On June 7, voters in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, will decide on two local-option excise taxes on medical and recreational marijuana sales. The first ballot measure would impose a 3% tax on recreational marijuana sales and related products. The second ballot measure would also impose a 3% tax on medical marijuana sales and related products. The taxes would take effect on October 1, 2022.
The Lewis and Clark County Commission voted to refer the measures to the ballot on Feb. 8, 2022.
In the 2020 election, Montana voters approved I-190 by a vote of 56.90% to 43.10%. The initiative legalized the possession and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, imposed a 20% tax on marijuana sales, required the Department of Revenue to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses, and allowed for the resentencing or expungement of marijuana-related crimes.
On March 29, 2021, the Montana House of Representatives introduced House Bill 701 (HB 701). It passed both chambers and was signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) in May 2021. HB 701 authorized counties to impose a local-option excise tax of up to 3% on medical and recreational marijuana sales. The revenue from the tax would be distributed as follows:
50% to the authorizing county;
45% to municipalities according to share of county population; and
5% to the Montana Department of Revenue for administration costs.
According to the state’s Department of Revenue, in February 2022, non-medical and medical marijuana sales totaled nearly $1.7 million. With a 3% tax rate, the estimated tax revenue would be $50,643.09.
A marijuana legalization campaign submitted signatures for a Missouri ballot initiative on Sunday. Legal Missouri 2022, the PAC supporting the initiative, stated that it submitted more than 385,000 petition signatures. If enough signatures are verified, the initiative will appear on the ballot this November.
If implemented, the measure would legalize marijuana possession and use for anyone over 21 years of age. It would also legalize the purchase, delivery, manufacturing, and sale of marijuana and enact a 6% tax on marijauna sales. The proposal would allow those who have been convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes to petition for their release from prison or expungement of their records.
The measure received support from the ACLU of Missouri, NAACP St. Louis City, as well as MoCannTrade, an association of marijuana business owners. “Cannabis reform is about more than establishing a safe and legal market. It is about righting the many wrongs prohibition has caused to our communities, especially communities of color,” said Jamie Kacz, executive director of NORML KC.
Some marijuana legalization advocates have made arguments critical of the ballot measure, saying that the measure’s licensing provisions exclude entrepreneurs and favor existing businesses with medical licenses. “There is no reason why Missouri entrepreneurs, and particularly in minority communities, shouldn’t have full access to commercial licensing opportunities,” said Tim Gilio of the Missouri Marijuana Legalization Movement.
Representative Ron Hicks, a Republican, introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in Missouri, saying, “It’s coming. Whether we file legislation or not, it’s coming.” He argued that the legislature, not an initiated constitutional amendment, should legalize marijuana. “If it comes through the legislature, it can be fixed immediately. You don’t have to go gathering signatures or anything like that. I would like to see this as a law and not an initiative petition,” said Rep. Hicks.
If enough signatures are verified, it will make the ballot this November in Missouri. The minimum requirement of verified signatures needed to appear on the ballot in Missouri is calculated by 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the eight state congressional districts. The smallest possible requirement is 171,592. Often, campaigns collect beyond the signature requirement in case there are errors with some of the signatures submitted. Once these signatures are filed, they are sent to county election authorities to be verified.
In Missouri, 31 initiatives have appeared on the ballot from 1996 to 2020. Out of these 31 measures, 19 (59.4%) were approved and 13 (40.6%) were defeated.
Currently, there are three measures on the November 2022 ballot in Missouri, which are:
Amendment 1, which would authorize the state treasurer to invest in highly rated municipal securities
A Department of the National Guard Amendment, which would give the Missouri National Guard its own department
A constitutional convention question, which asks voters whether to hold a state constitutional convention.
In South Dakota, two separate campaigns submitted their petition signatures on May 3 to get their initiatives on the ballot in November. The signatures were submitted to the secretary of state’s office on Tuesday afternoon.
One initiative, sponsored by the Dakotans for Health campaign, aims to expand Medicaid in South Dakota to adults between 18 and 65 years old with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level, which is currently about $18,000 for an individual or $37,000 for a family of four. This statutory initiative is in addition to a constitutional amendment that is already on the ballot—Constitutional Amendment D, which also expands Medicaid but amends the constitution. The co-founder of Dakotans for Health argued that voters may be more supportive of an initiated law rather than a constitutional amendment.
The other initiative aims to legalize marijuana for those 21 and older. This measure joins a group of potential marijuana ballot measures in 2022—one marijuana ballot measure is already certified in Maryland, while 18 total marijuana ballot measures have been proposed in other states in 2022.
Both campaigns have reported submitted over the threshold of signature requirements. Campaign director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, Matthew Schweich, stated that circulators collected 19,250 signatures. Meanwhile, 23,000 signatures were filed for the Medicaid expansion measure.
Each campaign must have at least 16,961 verified signatures to qualify for the ballot. In South Dakota, this number is equal to 5% of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election.
In South Dakota, 47 initiatives appeared on the ballot between 1985 and 2020. Twenty (42.6%) of these initiatives were approved by voters, while 27 (57.5%) of them were defeated.
If both initiatives qualify for the ballot, they will join two other ballot measures already certified on the South Dakota ballot in November—Constitutional Amendment C, and Constitutional Amendment D. Constitutional Amendment C would require a three-fifths supermajority vote for initiatives that increase taxes or fees that require the state to appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years.
On April 1, the Maryland General Assembly voted to refer a constitutional amendment to voters in November that would legalize marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older beginning in July 2023 and direct the state legislature to pass laws for the use, distribution, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.
To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a 60% vote is required in both chambers. The constitutional amendment was introduced as House Bill 1. On February 25, it passed the state House in a vote of 96-34. On April 1, the Senate passed the bill with amendments by a vote of 29-17. The House concurred with the amendments by a vote of 94-39. It does not need the governor’s signature to appear on the ballot.
On the same day, the legislature passed implementing legislation, House Bill 837, which would take effect if the amendment is passed by voters. HB 837 would legalize the personal use and possession of up to 1.5 ounces or 12 grams of concentrated cannabis for individuals 21 years of age or older. It would also legalize the possession of up to two cannabis plants. It would change the criminal penalties for persons found possessing cannabis under the age of 21. The bill would also automatically expunge convictions for conduct that would be made legal under the law, and individuals serving time for such offenses would be allowed to file for resentencing. The bill would require specific studies on the use of cannabis, the medical cannabis industry, and the adult-use cannabis industry. It would also establish the Cannabis Business Assistance Fund and the Cannabis Public Health Fund.
If approved by voters, Maryland would join 18 states and Washington, D.C., in legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The amendment is the first related to marijuana to qualify for the 2022 ballot. In 2020, ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana were approved by voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. The New Jersey measure was the first legislatively referred measure to legalize recreational marijuana. The measure in South Dakota was ruled unconstitutional on February 8, 2021. The case was appealed to the state Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court ruling.
Olivia Naugle, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “Marylanders have long awaited a new approach to cannabis policy and the passage of these bills is a promising step forward. We applaud the legislature for taking decisive action this session to finally end the era of cannabis prohibition, a policy that is both long overdue and supported by a majority of constituents. We look forward to working with Maryland legislators on this issue moving forward.”
State Senator J. B. Jennings (R), who voted against the amendment, said, “I just don’t think it should be in the constitution.”
Maryland voters will also be deciding on three other constitutional amendments in November that would make the following changes:
Rename the Maryland Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of Maryland and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to the Appellate Court of Maryland
Increase the amount in controversy in civil proceedings in which the right to a jury trial may be limited by legislation from $15,000 to $25,000
Require that state legislators reside and maintain a place of abode in the district in which they wish to represent for six months prior to the date of election
From 1996 through 2020, 33 of 36 statewide ballot measures were approved, and three were defeated.
The Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced on Jan. 28 that an initiative proposing the legalization of marijuana had submitted enough valid signatures to be presented to the state legislature.
The initiative would enact a state law to legalize the cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home growth, and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older. Adults would be authorized to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals would be able to grow six marijuana plants at home or up to 12 plants per household. The initiative would also enact a 10% cannabis tax rate on adult-use sales and dedicate revenue to fund a cannabis social equity and jobs program.
In Ohio, initiated state statutes are indirect, meaning they must be considered by the state legislature. The legislature has four months to adopt, reject, or take no action on the measure. If the legislature rejects the measure or takes no action, sponsors have 90 days following the legislature’s four-month deadline to collect 132,887 additional signatures.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the campaign behind the initiative, submitted an initial round of 206,943 signatures on Dec. 20, 2021. Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced on Jan. 3 that 119,825 signatures were valid–13,062 less than the number required. In Ohio, campaigns are given a one-week cure period to collect additional signatures, meaning the campaign had until Jan. 14, 2022, to submit additional signatures. The campaign announced on Jan. 13 that they had submitted an additional 29,918 signatures.
The secretary of state announced on Jan. 28 that the campaign had collected a total of 136,729 valid signatures, which means the campaign had a signature validity rate of 57.7%.
Tom Haren, a spokesman for the campaign, said, “We are ready and eager to work with Ohio legislators over the next four months to legalize the adult use of marijuana in Ohio.”
Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016. Ohio voters rejected a recreational marijuana initiative in 2015 by a margin of 63.65% to 36.35%.
Ballotpedia is tracking 20 citizen-initiated measures in nine states related to marijuana that could appear before voters in 2022. As of 2022, recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in 36 states and D.C.
In Ohio, sponsors of an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana submitted an additional 29,918 signatures on January 13, after the secretary of state verified their initial petition contained 119,825 valid signatures–13,062 less than the number required. If enough of the additional signatures are found to be valid, the initiative will go before the state legislature. If the state legislature does not enact it outright, sponsors will have to collect a second round of 132,887 signatures to place it on the 2022 ballot. In 2015, Ohio voters defeated Issue 3 with a margin of 63.65% to 36.35%.
In Arkansas, voters could decide on two marijuana initiatives. One initiative would decriminalize marijuana, give limited immunity to cannabis businesses, and create regulations on the cannabis industry. The other would legalize marijuana use for individuals 21 years of age and older regardless of residency. Both campaigns have until July 8, 2022, to collect 89,151 valid signatures.
Florida voters could decide changes to the state’s medical marijuana amendment approved by voters in 2016 with two separate initiatives. Initiative #18-02 would add nine mental health disorders to the list of qualifying conditions to purchase and use medical marijuana. Initiative #18-05 would redefine medical use under the measure to include growing up to nine marijuana plants.
Nebraska has four initiatives cleared for circulation related to marijuana. Three of the initiatives would establish a state medical marijuana program and are sponsored by State Senators Anna Wishart (D) and Adam Morfeld (D). One initiative is a constitutional amendment, and the other two are state statutes. The Nebraska Hemp Company filed a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana. The Nebraska signature deadline is July 7, 2022.
In North Dakota, an initiative was cleared for signature gathering that would legalize marijuana use for residents 21 years of age and older and allow a person to possess, grow, process, or transport up to 12 cannabis plants for personal use. In 2018, North Dakota voters defeated Measure 3, an initiative that would have legalized marijuana, in a vote of 59.45% to 40.55%.
Kind Idaho filed an initiative to establish a state medical marijuana program. Sponsors attempted to qualify an identical initiative for the 2020 Idaho ballot but suspended their signature-gathering campaign in April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Voters could also decide on an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. The initiative is sponsored by The Idaho Way. The campaigns need to submit 64,945 valid signatures by May 1, 2022.
In Missouri, there are three initiatives cleared for circulation that would legalize and regulate recreational marijuana. The initiatives were filed by three different sponsors. A constitutional amendment to change the state’s medical marijuana program approved by voters in 2018 was also cleared for circulation. It would allow medical marijuana patients to grow marijuana for personal use, decrease the cost of a patient identification card from $100 to $25, and allow up to three primary caregivers for a medical marijuana patient. The signature requirement for constitutional amendments is 160,199 signatures by May 8, 2022.
Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action filed three initiatives. Two initiatives would (1) amend the state constitution to legalize marijuana for persons 21 years old and older and (2) impose a 15% excise tax on marijuana sales for purchases by an individual without a medical marijuana license. The third initiative would make changes to the state’s medical marijuana program to create the State Cannabis Commission to replace the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.
In South Dakota, an initiative to legalize marijuana was cleared for signature gathering. In 2020, 54.18% of voters approved Amendment A, which would have legalized marijuana, but it was later overturned by a supreme court ruling that found the initiative violated the state’s single-subject rule and constituted a revision of the constitution rather than an amendment. The 2022 initiative was filed by New Approach South Dakota, which also sponsored the 2020 amendment.
On April 12, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed House Bill 2 (HB 2) to legalize recreational marijuana.
HB 2 made New Mexico the third state to approve recreational marijuana legalization in the last two weeks. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a marijuana legalization bill on March 31, and, on April 7, the Virginia General Assembly approved Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) amended legalization proposal.
HB 2 allows the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, 16 grams of concentrated marijuana, and 800 milligrams of edible cannabis. It allows each person to grow up to six mature and six immature marijuana plants, with a limit of 12 mature plants per household. Local governments will be allowed to pass laws regulating certain commercial activity and density.
Marijuana sales will be taxed at 12% through July 1, 2025. After 2025, the tax will increase by one percentage point annually until it reaches 18% in 2030. One-third of revenue will go to the city in which the sale occurred, one-third to the county, and the other third will be distributed by future legislation.
Provisions of HB 2 without specified timelines, such as legalization of possession and use, will go into effect 90 days after the legislative session adjourns, estimated to be around July 1. The bill also establishes the Cannabis Control Division to regulate and license commercial marijuana activity. The division must establish a date to begin legal marijuana sales starting no later than April 1, 2022.
Another bill, Senate Bill 2, provided for the expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions for activities made legal by HB 2.
New Mexico was the fifth state to approve legalized recreational marijuana through legislative action rather than a voter-approved ballot measure. Including New Mexico, 17 states and D.C. have enacted marijuana legalization. The first nine states to legalize recreational marijuana did so through ballot initiatives. An additional 13 states have decriminalized recreational marijuana usage.
South Dakota voters approved a recreational marijuana legalization initiative in 2020, but it was ruled unconstitutional. Proponents said they would appeal the ruling to the state supreme court.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill on March 31 legalizing recreational marijuana and allowing resentencing for those convicted of certain marijuana-related charges.
Both chambers of the legislature passed the bill (Assembly Bill 1248/Senate Bill 854) on March 30.
New York became the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana. In addition, South Dakota voters approved a marijuana legalization initiative in November 2020, but it was overturned by a circuit court ruling, which was appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court. Fifteen additional states have decriminalized recreational marijuana.
New York was the third state, after Vermont and Illinois, to legalize recreational marijuana through legislative action instead of a voter-approved ballot measure. The first nine states to legalize recreational marijuana did so through citizen-initiated ballot initiatives.
Responding to legalization in New York, Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “We expect 2021 to be a record-breaking year for legislatures legalizing cannabis.”
The bill allows the possession of up to three ounces of marijuana and allows each person to grow up to three mature marijuana plants with a cap of six mature plants per household. The legalization of possession and home-grow goes into effect immediately.
The bill establishes the Office of Cannabis Management to license and regulate recreational marijuana retail and distribution. The new office will also take over the regulation of medical marijuana sales. The office will be run by a board consisting of three members appointed by the governor, one member appointed by the Assembly, and one appointed by the Senate. The bill does not establish a specific date by which legal recreational marijuana sales would begin, but state officials estimated it would be between 18 months and two years. The bill also establishes an advisory board for the office.
The bill will create expungement and resentencing processes for anyone convicted on a charge that is no longer a crime under the new law. It would also allow for the expungement of certain convictions that occurred prior to the state’s 2019 decriminalization law but for which sentences were reduced or removed by decriminalization.
The bill provides for a 13% excise tax on retail marijuana sales. It also enacts a tax ranging from $0.03 to $0.08 per milligram of THC for wholesale to dispensaries. Gov. Cuomo’s office estimated revenue of $350 million annually. Revenue above what is required for administration and enforcement would be allocated to the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, general education through the State Lottery Fund, the Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund, and local municipal and county governments.
The bill allows for cities, towns, and villages to pass local laws prohibiting certain retail establishments and regulating certain aspects of the operation of retail establishments. The bill also contains a process for local voters to overturn local legislation banning recreational marijuana retail.
Comparing New York’s bill with legalization measures in other states
Among the 13 marijuana legalization ballot measures that have passed in other states, all but one explicitly allowed a certain amount of local government control over marijuana regulation. Excise taxes on marijuana sales ranged from an initial rate of 3.75% (subject to increase) in Massachusetts to 25% in Washington. The average tax rate was about 13%. The New Jersey ballot measure applied the state’s sales tax to marijuana but prohibited an additional excise tax.
Seventeen states and D.C. have enacted laws expunging past marijuana convictions, sealing marijuana crime records, or establishing set-aside policies that apply to marijuana-related convictions.
For a comparison of details on possession limits, tax rates, home grow regulations, local control, and revenue allocation among all recreational marijuana ballot measures approved so far, click here.
As of March 2021, 15 states and Washington, D.C., had legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Eleven states and D.C. did so through citizen initiatives, one through a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, and three, including New York, through bills approved by state legislatures and signed by governors. An additional 15 states had decriminalized recreational marijuana usage. Based on 2019 population estimates, roughly 40% percent of Americans lived in a jurisdiction with legalized recreational marijuana as of March 2021.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana when voters approved legalization initiatives.
In January 2018, Vermont was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana without voters approving a citizen initiative. Illinois was the second state to legalize recreational marijuana without a voter-approved citizen initiative.
In 2020, New Jersey was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through voter approval of a legislatively referred measure, rather than a citizen-initiated one.
Montana voters will decide five statewide ballot measures on November 3 concerning firearms, marijuana, and the ballot initiative process.
The two citizen initiatives on the ballot—CI-118 and I-190—were sponsored by New Approach Montana and are designed to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. CI-118 would amend the Montana Constitution to authorize the legislature or a citizen initiative to set a legal age for marijuana purchase, use, and possession. I-190 would enact a law that would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, impose a 20% tax on marijuana sales, require the Department of Revenue to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses, and allow for the resentencing or expungement of marijuana-related crimes.
The tax revenue generated would be allocated as follows:
49.5% to accounts for wildlife, parks, and recreation
10.5% to the state’s general fund
10% to an account for drug treatment
10% to local authorities to enforce the provisions of the law
10% to an account for Montana veterans
10% to an account to fund wage increases for healthcare workers
Pepper Peterson, a spokesperson for New Approach Montana, said, “Our research has always shown that a majority of Montanans support legalization, and now voters will have the opportunity to enact that policy, which will create jobs and generate new revenue for our state. It also means that law enforcement will stop wasting time and resources arresting adults for personal marijuana possession, and instead focus on real crime.”
According to the latest campaign finance data filed on September 30, New Approach Montana reported receiving $6.95 million in contributions, including $4.7 million from the North Fund (a D.C. based nonprofit) and $1.9 million from the national New Approach PAC.
There is one committee registered in opposition to the initiatives—Wrong for Montana. The campaign reported receiving over $78,000 in contributions. Steve Zabawa, the treasurer of the Wrong for Montana campaign, said, “All you have to do is go to Colorado for a test site. They’ve been up and running now for eight years, and if you look at the traffic accidents, you look at the emergency room, you look at the vagrants, you look at the activity in the black market as well as the regular market down there, it has just exploded.”
Montana voters will also vote on a legislative referral that would remove local governments’ authority to regulate the carrying of permitted concealed weapons. The ballot measure would continue to allow local governments to regulate unpermitted concealed weapons and unconcealed weapons in public occupied buildings.
LR-130 would also remove local governments’ power to regulate the possession of firearms by “convicted felons, adjudicated mental incompetents, illegal aliens, and minors.”
According to the text of the measure, it was designed “to secure the right to keep and bear arms and to prevent a patchwork of restrictions by local governments across the state.”
Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) came out in opposition to the measure saying, “[LR-130] would end local decision-making about whether felons and the mentally ill can carry weapons in public. It would also end local decision-making about concealed weapons. Both changes are dramatic departures from Montana history. Neither is good policy. Montana law already contains strong protections that totally prohibit localities from restricting our basic right to keep and bear arms. […] I see no reason to reassign that power to decision-makers in Helena.”
Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, said, “Bullock is effectively arguing that a felon who would disregard committing another federal felony and disregard a state law prohibiting guns in schools would be deterred from bringing guns into schools if only local governments are allowed to enact an ordinance for a local misdemeanor prohibiting that conduct. Right, as if felons spend their time first reading and then complying with local ordinances.”
Ballotpedia identified one committee—NRA Big Sky Self-Defense Committee—in support of LR-130 that raised $16,000 from the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. There is one committee—No on LR-130—that reported nearly $1 million in contributions with its largest contribution from the Montana Federation for Public Employees ($803,369.27).
The legislature also referred two constitutional amendments to the ballot—C-46 and C-47. The measures would not alter currently enforced initiative signature distribution requirements but would amend constitutional language to match the signature distribution requirements currently enforced.
A distribution requirement is a statutory or constitutional mandate requiring that petitions for a ballot measure or candidate nomination must be signed by voters from different political subdivisions in order for the ballot measure or candidate to qualify for the ballot.
For an initiated constitutional amendment in Montana, proponents must collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the qualified electors in each of two-fifths (40) of the state’s 100 legislative districts. C-47 would amend the constitutional language to match these signature distribution requirements for initiative petitions.
For an initiated state statute or a veto referendum in Montana, sponsors must collect signatures equal to 5 percent of the qualified electors in each of one-third (34) of the state’s legislative districts. C-46 would amend the constitutional language to match these requirements.
The signature distribution requirements for initiated state statutes, veto referendums, and initiated constitutional amendments were changed in the state constitution to a county-based requirement with the passage of two voter-approved constitutional amendments, C-37 and C-38, in 2002. The 2002 county-based requirements were later ruled unconstitutional. Based on a ruling from Attorney General Mike McGrath, the distribution requirements in the constitution prior to 2002 were re-enforced. The invalidated language, however, remained in the state constitution.
The deadline to register to vote is October 26. Late registration, which is conducted at county election offices, begins on October 27 and continues through election day. Polls will be open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm on election day. Mail-in ballots must be received by 8:00 pm on election day.