Yet to Legalize | Looking at Proposed Cannabis Programs in Non-Legal States
Marijuana reform has made strong advancements in several state legislatures this year. Chief among them, New York State enacted recreational legalization in March, while Governor Ned Lamont in neighboring Connecticut signed legislation this past June. Virginia in the southeast and Montana, over 2,000 miles to the west, recently passed legalization that could begin the taxation and regulation of adult-use cannabis as soon as next year.
Keep reading as we highlight the other heavy hitters taking a substantial position for cannabis legalization.
The Accelerating Pace of Marijuana Reform in the United States
More than half of states in the U.S. have either legalized, decriminalized, or established a medical marijuana program. With that said, a few other states are still hoping to make progress toward legalization before the end of the year.
As we continue to see forward-moving activism and legislation every year, having a nationwide “green sweep” in this decade doesn’t seem so farfetched. Here’s a breakdown of three important states where cannabis legalization has been proposed and what reforms could be decided by voters in 2022.
Activist groups are taking the lead on cannabis legalization in the state by pushing voter referendums to be on state ballots in 2022. The two main groups competing at the forefront are: Fair Access Missouri and Legal Approach Missouri.
Fair Access Proposal
Fair access brings 4 strong petitions to the ballot in 2022. Three of the four would create a system of legalized cannabis sales for adults 21 and older, while another would simply amend the state’s existing medical marijuana program. The petitions aim to:
- Create more jobs and a stronger economy with an open, equitable, and regulated cannabis market.
- Establish regulations from the state agencies experienced in providing similar oversight for alcohol products.
- Establish sufficient quantities of medical marijuana at reasonable prices for patients; and provide education related to marijuana, marijuana use, and dependency.
Legal Approach Proposal
In late August, Legal Approach Missouri 2022 filed an official proposal that would establish a system to:
- Regulate and tax cannabis for adult use, allowing adults 21 and older to purchase, possess, and cultivate cannabis for personal use.
- Establish a system to automatically expunge criminal records for thousands of Missourians convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses in the past.
The effort to fully legalize marijuana gained an important assist from the speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, Adrienne A. Jones, who announced her support for allowing voters to decide the matter on a ballot vote in 2022.
“While I have personal concerns about encouraging marijuana use, particularly among children and young adults, the disparate criminal justice impact leads me to believe that the voters should have a say in the future of legalization,”
– Speaker Adrienne A. Jones
House Bill 32 (HB32) the Inclusion, Restoration, and Rehabilitation Act of 2021, which proposed a detailed regulatory scheme for legalized cannabis, was introduced in January this year but failed to receive a vote of the Maryland House. Notably, the bill also included a robust social equity plan which may serve as a model for future attempts.
State House Speaker Jones is expected to follow through on her comment that voters deserve to have their say on a cannabis legalization during the 2022 election.
Legalization advocates have explored two basic approaches this year to passing cannabis reform. One, a bill introduced in August 2021 gained some attention in the legislature but appears to have stalled late in the session.
A second approach, a ballot initiative sponsored by The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA, appears more promising. In August, the Ohio attorney general certified the initiative which enables advocates to begin collecting signatures to place the initiative on 2022 general election ballot. Campaign organizers seem confident about their ability to round up the 132,000 signatures necessary to ensure they get the initiative rolling.
“It’s time to lead Ohio forward. This is a big step for criminal justice reform, for our veterans, for economic opportunity, and for our individual liberties.”
– Representative Casey Weinstein
The push for cannabis legalization in the United States comes strongly from citizen advocates, lawmakers, and politicians alike. Here at NACB, we hope that as more states are seen taking action, more will then follow suit and continue to develop smarter and more efficient legalization plans.
Stay tuned to our NACB blog page for more news about cannabis legalization, and other pertinent informational content.