Last updated: September 25, 2023
The people spoke in both Missouri and Maryland on November 8th with both states voting in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana.
Those in Missouri who were hoping to join the ranks of United States citizens who freely smoke pot in the comfort of their own homes were awaiting the results with bated breath. It was a close race all night. The “yes” votes pulled it out at the end of the day though with the final count being 53% in favor to 47% against.
Maryland voters were a bit more aggressive in their pursuit of a win with 65% of them voting to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults. The law won’t take effect until July 1, 2023—a fact that gives the General Assembly time to answer specific questions regarding recreational cannabis. The questions will include how many licenses will be available and who can get them.
There may be more to address regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana use by July of next year though.
SAM Plans to Bring Opposition
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is opposed to the commercialization of cannabis. They’ve identified a loophole in the verbiage of the measure on Maryland’s ballot. The question put to voters was “Do you favor the legalization of the use of cannabis by an individual?”
According to Will Jones, SAM’s director of community engagement, since there was no mention of marijuana sales or commercialization there may be legal avenues that could bring a halt to the commercial sale of the drug if individual communities want to opt-out. Jones was quoted as saying, “For communities that don’t want to have a cannabis dispensary on every corner, we’re going to walk with them to show them legal ways that they can opt-out of that in their locations.”
It sounds like the 35% of Maryland’s citizens that voted not to legalize recreational marijuana still have an opposing stance. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
We’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, over in Missouri
Legal Missouri 2022, presented to voters in Amendment 3, claimed victory at approximately 11:30 p.m. on election night. The Associated Press officially called the race sometime early Wednesday morning though.
The amendment to Missouri’s constitution legalizes the purchase, possession, consumption, use, delivery, manufacture, and sale of marijuana for personal use for adults over the age of 21. Missouri citizens would legally be allowed to possess up to three ounces of pot. A 6% tax will be added to the retail price.
Marijuana facilities will be prohibited from selling cannabis-infused products shaped or packaged as candy so as not to entice children.
The amendment is also in line with President Biden’s urging to pardon some individuals of certain marijuana-related offenses. The individual is responsible for petitioning for release from prison or parole and probation. If the pardon is granted, permanent records will be expunged.
Dan Viets, a local attorney who’s secretary of NORML at the national level and vice president of the Mid-Missouri NORML chapter, said, “What’s important is that we stop arresting more than 20,000 of our fellow citizens every year, for victimless behavior.” He continued, “Marijuana does not need to be treated like a crime. People who use marijuana responsibly should not be treated like criminals. Specifically that our law enforcement officers can spend less time on pointless marijuana investigations and more time investigating violent crime and other types of serious crime.”
Missouri NAACP President, Nimrod Chapel Jr., disagrees. He believes that Amendment 3 can be viewed as a “bait and switch.” He says that the verbiage states that criminal records will be expunged. However, there is no plan included to make that happen—therefore, expungement is not guaranteed.
What about spreading the wealth though?
Some believe that things are set up to create a restrictive industry in Missouri’s marijuana market. Medical marijuana dispensaries already in business will get the first chance to apply for recreational licenses. This is a blow against small businesses in the state because when one person can obtain several licenses it stifles growth.
There is nothing in the works to make changes to the planned procedure. However, Missouri is located in the midst of the nation’s Heartland—agriculture is their thing. Since Missouri residents are now allowed to grow up to eighteen marijuana plants—new businesses may not have experienced much growth.
Moreover, in view of that line of thinking, dispensaries already in business may take a “hit” as well. Only time will tell how that plays out.
Nearly halfway there
Now that Missouri and Maryland joined the states allowing the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes, the count stands at twenty-one. Recreational marijuana is legalized in Washington, D.C. as well.
Marijuana has earned the reputation of being a “harmless” drug. That fact is becoming more prominent with each passing election. However, just because the proposal makes the ballot, it’s not a sure thing that the measure will pass. Arkansas and the Dakotas had proposals to legalize recreational marijuana on the mid-term ballot, too. The numbers weren’t identical, but just over half of voters in all three states didn’t want legalization.
Will those states—and others—put recreational marijuana legalization on the ballot in the future? Marijuana is proving to be a lucrative source of capital. That said, there’s a very good chance the answer to that question is yes.