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Eight of nine states appear to have approved marijuana-related ballot proposals

By Joy P. Waltemath, J.D.

On November 8, nine states voted on marijuana-related ballot proposals, either recreational or medical. Based on unofficially reported election results, eight of those state initiatives appear to have been passed by voters; the margin for approval in Maine is very narrow, and there is the possibility of a recount. Here is a brief recap of how those initiatives fared from NORM.org and other media sources:

PASSED—Arkansas Issue 6 (medical use): Issue 6 has passed, based on election reports. The new law takes effect on November 9, 2017. Regulators have 120 days following the law’s enactment to develop rules overseeing the new medical marijuana program. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, Issue 6, does not permit “hardship certificates” for home cultivation of marijuana and also provides about 20 qualifying conditions for which cannabis therapy may be recommended.

DID NOT PASS—Arizona Proposition 205 (recreational use): Proposition 205, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, did not pass. It would have allowed adults 21 years of age and older to possess and to privately consume and grow limited amounts of marijuana.

PASSED—California Proposition 64 (recreational use): The Adult Use of Marijuana Act has passed. Revised marijuana penalties take effect on November 9, 2016. Retail sales of marijuana by state-licensed establishments are scheduled to begin under the law on January 1, 2018. On site consumption is permitted under the law in establishments licensed for such activity. Large-scale corporate players are restricted from becoming involved until 2023. Proposition 64 will permit adults to legally grow (up to six plants) and possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrate) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The measure prohibits localities from taking actions to infringe upon adults’ ability to possess and cultivate cannabis for non-commercial purposes. The initiative language specifies that it is not intended to “repeal, affect, restrict, or preempt … laws pertaining to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.” Proposition 64 would specifically allow public and private employers to enact and enforce workplace policies pertaining to marijuana.

PASSED—Florida Amendment 2 (medical use): Amendment 2, Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Conditions, has passed, reportedly approved by more than 71 percent of voters. The provision will permit qualified patients to possess and obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities. “Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind, for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient. The amendment would not require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of employment, nor would any health insurance provider be required to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.

PASSED—Maine Question 1 (recreational use): According to published reports of a final vote tally on November 10, Maine appears to have very narrowly approved (50.2 %, or a reported margin of just 2,620 votes) the Marijuana Legalization Act, which would allow adults to legally possess up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana and to cultivate marijuana (up to six mature plants, and their entire yields) for their own personal use. It will establish licensing for the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. Retail sales of cannabis will be subject to a 10 percent sales tax, but non-commercial transactions and/or retail sales involving medical cannabis will not be taxed. The act will not require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, trade, display, transportation, sale, or growing of cannabis in the workplace, nor will it affect the ability of employers to enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees or to discipline employees who are under the influence of marijuana in the workplace.

PASSED—Massachusetts Question 4 (recreational use): The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, Question 4, has passed. The new law takes effect on December 15, 2016. Regulators are scheduled to begin accepting applications from marijuana-related businesses on October 1, 2017. The law allows adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside of their residences and up to 10 ounces of marijuana in an enclosed, locked space within their residences, which is like the current in-residence allowance established by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for medical marijuana patients. It allows adults 21 years of age and older to grow up to six marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked space within their residences and possess the marijuana produced by those plants in the location where it was grown. Employers will be able to maintain all current employment drug use policies.

PASSED—Montana I-182 (medical use): Montana voters approved the Medical Marijuana Act in 2004 and have approved its expansion via The Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative, I-182, which includes PTSD as a debilitating medical condition. The new law takes effect on June 30, 2017. The initiative repeals the existing limit of three patients for each licensed provider and allows providers to hire employees to cultivate, dispense, and transport medical marijuana. It will also repeal the requirement that physicians who provide certifications for 25 or more patients annually be referred to the board of medical examiners. I-182 removes the authority of law enforcement to conduct unannounced inspections of medical marijuana facilities, and requires annual inspections by the state.

PASSED—Nevada Question 2 (recreational use): The Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative, Question 2, has passed. The new law takes effect on January 1, 2017. Regulations governing commercial marijuana activities must be in place by January 1, 2018. The initiative will permit adults to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce and/or six plants) for non-commercial purposes. The measure also regulates and taxes the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. Proponents state that the initiative will NOT affect employers’ current marijuana policies or their ability to establish workplace restrictions on marijuana consumption by employees, nor does it change existing medical marijuana laws or affect patients’ rights.

PASSED—North Dakota Measure 5 (medical use): The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act 2016 permit patients with an eligible debilitating condition to possess and obtain marijuana (up to three ounces) and marijuana-specific preparations under a doctor’s written certification. The measure also establishes a statewide regulatory system for the creation of licensed compassionate care centers. Patients (or their caregivers) who do not live in close proximity to such centers (over 40 miles) may cultivate up to eight marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked facility. The new law takes effect 90 days following voter approval.

Election results are considered unofficial until certified.