With a number of cannabis-related initiatives tied to the ballot, today’s US election looks set to increase the number of states with recreational cannabis.
Nine states will vote today on some level of cannabis reform, with five of those deciding on legal recreational use, including California, where a successful vote would legalize cannabis sales in the world’s sixth largest economy and make the entirety of the American West Coast an enclave of legalized sales.
Arizona Marijuana Legalization, Proposition 205
Of the five full-on recreational votes happening today, Arizona’s looks to be the least likely to pass, with near even support and opposition at 45.91 per cent and 46.32 per cent, respectively.
A successful vote will establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, which will regulate the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, and sale of cannabis, with retail regulation set and enforced at the municipal level.
People over 21 would be permitted to possess and use one ounce or less of cannabis and grow up to six plants in their homes. Medical cannabis facilities already in operation would be allowed to transition to recreational.
The government would impose a 15 per cent tax on cannabis sales in the state, deposited into a “Marijuana Fund” that would be used toward the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control and the Department of Revenue, cities with dispensaries, schools and health services.
California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization
With average polling numbers at 58.43 per cent in favour and 35.15 opposed, California looks set to legalize recreational cannabis sales after today’s vote.
Adults over the age of 21 would be able to smoke cannabis in their homes or in private businesses licensed for on-site consumption, grow up to six plants and be allowed to have up to to 28.5 grams of cannabis and eight grams of concentrated product on them.
Possession on school grounds, day cares or youth facilities would remain illegal.
The state’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation will be renamed the Bureau of Marijuana Control and be responsible for the regulation and licensing of related businesses while cities will be able to restrict where shops are located within their borders or ban them completely.
California will impose a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves as well as a 15 per cent tax on retail sales. Municipalities would be able to add local taxes on to this amount at their discretion.
Maine Marijuana Legalization, Question 1
After legalizing medical cannabis in 1999, all attempts to push through recreational sales have failed until now, where polls is showed a majority support for the measure at 52.27 per cent.
Question 1 will make it permissible for anyone over 21 to process, transfer or purchase up tot 2 1/2 ounces of cannabis, grow up to six flowering plants, 12 immature plants and an unlimited number of seedlings and add a 10 per cent sales tax on cannabis sales at retail shops and social clubs.
Maine’s Republican governor Paul LePage has come out against the measure, and smaller growers and patients have voiced concerns that recreational legalization under Question 1 would give too much influence to large producers and retailers.
Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization, Question 4
With 51.23 per cent in favour and 41.2 per cent opposed, Massachusetts’s Question 4 looks likely to pass and create a regulation system similar to how the state currently handles alcohol. If successful, recreational sales would be fully legal after Dec. 15.
Proceeds from retail sales of cannabis and derivative products would be subject to a tax of 3.75 per cent, with cities able to add an additional 2 per cent in taxes, if desired.
“Products will be tested, packaged, and labeled to ensure marijuana is not contaminated and consumers know what they’re getting. Law enforcement officials will be able to spend more of their time and limited resources addressing serious crimes,” read a statement from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts. “Taxing marijuana sales will raise millions of dollars in new revenue each year. Legitimate marijuana businesses will create thousands of good jobs for Massachusetts residents and utilize the products and services of other Massachusetts businesses.”
Nevada Marijuana Legalization, Question 2
Finally, Nevada will also vote on recreational sales, limited again to consumers over 21 years old, with 51 per cent polled in favour and opposition at 40.4 per cent.
Question 2’s success would create a new 15 percent excise tax on cannabis sales, with that revenue being spent on enforcing the measure and schools.
Up to six cannabis plants could be grown for personal use as long as the cultivation was enclosed and locked.
No dispensaries or other cannabis business would be allowed within 1,000 feet of a school or 300 feet of a community centre, additionally stores would be limited by population. Counties with less than 55,000 people living in them would be allowed up to two dispensaries, while spots with more than 700,000 people would be permitted up to 80 shops.
Licensing fees for cannabis shops and producers would range from $3,300 to $30,000 annually, depending on the type of license.