Voters Embrace Cannabis in Sweeping Approvals of 2020 Marijuana Legalization Initiatives

November 19, 2020Alerts

On November 3, 2020, voters in several states weighed in on whether their state should legalize marijuana. The ballot measures in some states had only medical marijuana on the ballot, while others presented a referendum on recreational marijuana. In the case of South Dakota, both medical and recreational marijuana were on the table.

Voters in every state approved the ballot initiatives, confirming that citizens throughout the United States are strongly in favor of cannabis legalization.

Here's a summary of the initiatives and their margins of victory.

Arizona

Proposition 207 (Legalized Adult-Use)
Passed with 60.03% voting yes 

  • Legalized the possession and use of marijuana for people age 21 years old or older;
  • Possession is limited to 1 ounce marijuana with no more than 5 grams of concentrate and 6 plants per household;
  • The Arizona Department of Health will adopt rules to regulate marijuana and marijuana businesses, including the licensing of retailers, cultivators, and manufacturers;
  • The state will place a 16% tax on marijuana sales, of which the proceeds will be split between community college districts; municipal police, sheriff, and fire departments; fire districts; the state's Highway User Revenue Fund; and a new Justice Reinvestment Fund;
  • Local governments will retain significant control over marijuana businesses as they can ban marijuana businesses from their jurisdiction and have control over the regulation, zoning, and licensing of those businesses;
  • Certain convictions of a marijuana-related crimes such as possession, consumption, cultivation, and transportation can be expunged starting July 12, 2021;
  • Arizona will also implement a Social Equity Ownership Program to provide licenses to companies owned by individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws.

Mississippi

Initiative 65 and Alternative 65A (Legalized Medicinal)
Measure 1 passed with 68.25% voting yes

Mississippi voters first voted on Measure 1, which was to legalize medical marijuana, and then voted on either Initiative 65 or Alternative 65A, which further detailed legalization.

  • Initiative 65 passed with 73.9% of the votes to Alternative 65A’s 26.1%;
  • Legalized medical marijuana for patients with 22 qualifying conditions, which must be confirmed by a physician;
  • Approved patients may possess up to 2.5 ounces (does not specify the difference between flower and concentrate);
  • The state will apply the usual sales tax (7%) to medicinal marijuana sales;
  • The Mississippi Department of Health will regulate the medicinal marijuana in the state and must issue rules and regulations by July 1, 2021;
  • The deadline for the Mississippi Department of Health to issues patient identification cards and licenses for treatment centers is August 15, 2021.

Montana

I-190 – Marijuana Legalization Initiative
Passed with 56.90% voting yes

  • Legalized the use and possession of marijuana for people 21 years old or older
    • Possession is limited to 1 ounce of flower or 8 grams of concentrate, and 4 plants and 4 seedlings for personal cultivation;
  • The Montana Department of Revenue will regulate the cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, and sale of marijuana;
  • Applications for marijuana dispensary licenses are expected to be accepted starting January 1, 2022;
  • The state will place a 20% tax on marijuana sale, which the proceeds will be split between the general fund; conservation programs; veterans programs; drug addiction treatment programs; local authorities enforcing the initiative; and healthcare workers;
  • Local governments will still be able to regulate marijuana businesses by ordinances or resolutions;
  • Individuals currently serving a sentence for a marijuana related crime that is no longer a crime under the initiative or have a lesser punishment may request to the resentenced or have the conviction expunged.

CI-118 – Allow for a Legal Age for Marijuana Amendment
Passed with 57.83% voting yes

  • Amended Section 14, Article 2 of the Montana Constitution to allow the legislature or a citizen initiative to establish the legal age of purchasing, consuming, or possession marijuana.

New Jersey 

Public Question 1 (Legalized Adult-Use)
Passed with 66.92% voting yes

  • Legalized the possession and consumption of marijuana for people 21 years old or older;
  • Legalized the cultivation, manufacturing, and sale of retail marijuana;
  • The New Jersey Marijuana Regulatory Commission will regulate the cultivation, processing, and sale of recreational marijuana;
  • The state will apply the usual sales tax (6.625%) to recreational marijuana sales and prohibited additional state sales taxes;
  • Local governments are allowed to enact an additional 2% sales tax on recreational marijuana.

South Dakota

Constitutional Amendment A (Legalized Adult-Use)
Passed with 54.18% voting yes

  • Legalized the recreational use and possession of marijuana for people 21 years old or older
    • Possession is limited to 1 ounce of marijuana (does not specify the difference between flower and concentrate);
  • Citizens that live in a jurisdiction with no retail stores can grow up to 3 plants in a private residence in a locked space but there can be no more than 6 plants per residence;
  • The state will place a 15% tax on marijuana sales, of which the proceeds will be evenly split between state public school and the state’s general fund;
  • Local governments will retain significant control over marijuana businesses as they can ban marijuana businesses from their jurisdiction and prohibit the transportation of marijuana on public roads in their jurisdiction by those who are licensed to do so.

Measure 26 (Legalized Medicinal)
Passed with 69.92% voting yes

  • Legalized medical marijuana for patients who have a debilitating medical condition that has been certified by a physician;
  • Legal possession of medical marijuana is capped to 3 ounces of flower and additional amounts of marijuana products (the South Dakota Department of Health will establish a limit on the quantity of marijuana products a person may possess);
  • Patients must register with the South Dakota Department of Health to cultivate medical marijuana for personal use and may possess a minimum of 3 plants;
  • The Department of Health is expected to enact rules and regulations to implement the medical marijuana program by October 29, 2021.