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The Marijuana Election Has Already Started: Here’s What You Need To Know About Early Voting And Registration Deadlines

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The marijuana election has already started. While Election Day on November 3 is still weeks away, several states where cannabis and drug policy reform measures are on the ballot have options to vote early, either in-person or by mail.

This year will be especially interesting, as legalizing cannabis for recreational or medical use isn’t the only drug reform topic that voters will decide on.

In a historic first, Oregon will get the chance to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes and decriminalize all currently illicit drugs. Washington, D.C. voters have a chance to decriminalize certain psychedelics in the nation’s capital. And five more states could legalize marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

The coronavirus pandemic has cast a spotlight on mail-in and early in-person voting, as more voters may be weary of standing in lines and potentially risking exposure. For those interested in taking advantage of these alternative options, here’s a guide with the key dates to remember, including deadlines for voter registration:

Arizona

What’s on the ballot? An initiative to legalize marijuana for adult use. Under the measure, adults could possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.

A poll released earlier this month showed a slim majority of Arizonans (51 percent) favor the proposal.

When does in-person early voting start? October 7

When are mail-in ballots sent out? October 7-10

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 5

Mississippi

What’s on the ballot? Two measures to legalize medical cannabis. But voting for this isn’t quite so simple.

After the activist-led initiative qualified, the legislature approved an alternative proposal that will appear alongside it. Advocates say this was a deliberate attempt to confuse people, split the vote and prevent the state from implementing a medical marijuana system.

The ballot is decidedly confusing, but polling shows when presented with the options, more voters favor the activists’ initiative.

When does in-person early voting start? Mississippi doesn’t provide for early in-person voting

When are mail-in ballots sent out? September 24

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 5

Montana

What’s on the ballot? A statutory measure to legalize marijuana for adult use and a separate constitutional amendment stipulating that only those 21 and older could access the market. If approved by voters, adults would be able to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to four plants and four seedlings at home.

When does in-person early voting start? October 5 (in select counties)

When are mail-in ballots sent out? October 9

What’s the voter registration deadline? November 3

New Jersey

What’s on the ballot? A referendum to legalize recreational cannabis. When the legislature failed to advance legalization legislation, they opted to place the issue before voters. If the measure is approved on Election Day, lawmakers will then have to pass implementing legislation containing details for how the legal cannabis market will work.

A poll released last month showed that 66 percent of likely voters in New Jersey support the measure.

When does in-person early voting start? September 19 (in select counties)

When are mail-in ballots sent out? September 19

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 13

Ohio

What’s on the ballot? Four local initiatives to decriminalize marijuana possession. Voters in Adena, Glouster, Jacksonville and Trimble will each see the reform measures on their ballots. If approved, they’ll join 18 other Ohio municipalities that have already enacted measures to lower penalties for misdemeanor cannabis possession in recent years.

When does in-person early voting start? October 6

When are mail-in ballots sent out? October 6

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 5

Oregon

What’s on the ballot? A measure to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes and a separate initiative to decriminalize possession of all currently illicit drugs while investing in substance misuse treatment.

Under the psilocybin measure, adults would be able to access the psychedelic in a medically supervised environment. There aren’t any limitations on the types of conditions that would make a patient eligible for the treatment.

The decriminalization initiative would remove criminal penalties for low-level drug possession offenses. It would also use existing tax revenue from marijuana sales, which voters legalized in 2014, to fund expanded substance misuse treatment programs.

When does in-person early voting start? Oregon does not provide for early in-person voting

When are mail-in ballots sent out? October 14

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 13

South Dakota

What’s on the ballot? A proposal legalize marijuana for adult use and a separate measure to legalize medical cannabis. If approved by voters, the constitutional adult-use amendment would allow people 21 and older to possess and distribute up to one ounce of marijuana, and they would also be allowed to cultivate up to three plants.

The statutory medical cannabis measure would allow patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions to possess and purchase up to three ounces of marijuana from a licensed dispensary.

According to a poll recently released by opponents of the policy change, about 60 percent of voters support the broader reform proposal and more than 70 percent back the narrower medical-focused initiative.

When does in-person early voting start? September 18

When are mail-in ballots sent out? September 18

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 19

Washington, D.C.

What’s on the ballot? An initiative to decriminalize a wide range of psychedelics such as psilocybin, ayahuasca and ibogaine. It would make enforcement of laws against entheogenic substances among the lowest local law enforcement priorities in the nation’s capital city.

According to a recent poll, three-in-five voters in the district favor the measure.

When does in-person early voting start? October 27

When are mail-in ballots sent out? It’s not clear when D.C. will mail out ballots.

What’s the voter registration deadline? November 3

Drug policy reform advocates faced unprecedented challenges qualifying these measures for the ballot amid the coronavirus pandemic, with multiple other campaigns throwing in the towel due to complications resulting from social distancing and shelter-in-place requirements. Their message to voters where reform made the cut is clear: pay attention to deadlines, read ballot instructions carefully and take advantage of the opportunity to choose from multiple voting options.

“We’re seeing a range of responses from supporters of marijuana reform,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment. “Some voters are relieved that they can securely vote using an absentee ballot or by voting early, while others are excited to go to the polls on Election Day.”

“The campaigns are working to accommodate all preferences. We’re answering questions from voters and assisting with navigating the absentee and early voting processes in each state,” he said. “Now more than ever, informing voters about the election process is crucial.”

Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment that “if you care about legalization, then you have to vote, period.”

“Whether or not a marijuana initiative is on the ballot, the legislatures are,” he said. “You can find where your candidates stand at vote.norml.org.”

Oregon Democratic Party Endorses Legal Psilocybin Therapy And Drug Decriminalization Ballot Measures

Photo courtesy of Democracy Chronicles.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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Top Pennsylvania Official Restores Marijuana Flag After GOP Lawmakers Allegedly Got It Removed

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Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s (D) marijuana and LGBTQ flags are waving again at his Capitol office after state officials removed them Monday night, allegedly at the behest of certain GOP lawmakers who feel strongly about the activist decor.

The day after their removal, the lieutenant governor proudly announced on Twitter that he’d restored the flags—one rainbow-themed and the other displaying cannabis leaves.

“I really can’t emphasize this enough, my issue isn’t with the individuals that came to take them down. They’re kind of caught in the middle of it so it’s not them,” Fetterman told Marijuana Moment. “But the Pennsylvania GOP exerted enough pressure and made enough drama so they felt that they needed to do something and they took them down. When I realized that, I just put them back up.”

The flags have been an unusual source of controversy for some members of the legislature. In November, Republican lawmakers passed budget legislation that included a provision targeting his cannabis-themed office decor, making it so only the American flag, the Pennsylvania flag and those honoring missing soldiers could be displayed at the Capitol building.

“There’s one great way to get them down for good and we can end this,” the lieutenant governor said. And that’s by enacting legislative reform.

“It shouldn’t have to be this way. These are not controversial things. These are very fundamentally American things. It’s freedom-related. It’s individuality-related. It’s jobs. It’s revenue,” he said. “These are not controversial, but these flags are. For the party that thinks it’s A-OK to talk about how an election that was secure was rigged, they sure have a real thin skin when it comes to free speech.”

A spokesperson for the state Department of General Services confirmed to Marijuana Moment that it was tasked with removing the flags and did so “in order to comply with section 1724-E of the fiscal code.” Asked whether lawmakers from the legislature’s Republican majority influenced the recent action, the representative repeated: “All I can say is the Department of General Services removed the flag in order to comply with section 1724-E of the fiscal code.”

Marijuana Moment reached out to the offices of the Senate majority leader and House speaker for comment, but representatives did not respond by the time of publication.

Defying the flag order is par for the course for Fetterman, a longtime marijuana reform advocate who is weighing a run for the U.S. Senate. His enthusiastic embrace of the issue has often put him in the spotlight, and he said he’d take that advocacy to Congress if he ultimately decides to enter the race and is elected.

“I’m the only person that’s actually called out my own party for its failure to embrace it when it is appropriate,” he said, referring to his repeated criticism of the Democratic National Committee’s rejection of a pro-legalization platform. “There has never been—or would ever be—a more committed advocate to ending this awful superstition over a plant for the United States.”

On his campaign website, the lieutenant governor touts his role in leading a listening tour across the state to solicit public input on the policy change. He noted that, following his efforts, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) “announced his support for legalization for the first time.”

It remains to be seen when legalization will happen in Pennsylvania, however. Despite Fetterman and Wolf’s support for legalization and the pressure they’re applying on lawmakers, convincing Republican legislative leaders to go along with the plan remains a challenge.

Fetterman previously told Marijuana Moment that pursuing reform through the governor’s budget request is a possibility. But in the meantime the administration is exploring the constitutionality of issuing “wholesale pardons for certain marijuana convictions and charges.”

Since adopting a pro-legalization position in 2019, Wolf has repeatedly called on the legislature to enact the policy change. He’s stressed that stressed that marijuana reform could generate tax revenue to support the state’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and that ending criminalization is necessary for social justice.

In September, he took a dig at the Republican-controlled legislature for failing to act on reform in the previous session. And in August, he suggested that the state itself could potentially control marijuana sales rather than just license private retailers as other legalized jurisdictions have done.

Fetterman previously said that farmers in his state can grow better marijuana than people in New Jersey—where voters approved a legalization referendum in November—and that’s one reason why Pennsylvania should expeditiously reform its cannabis laws.

He also hosted a virtual forum where he got advice on how to effectively implement a cannabis system from the lieutenant governors of Illinois and Michigan, which have enacted legalization.

Shortly after the governor announced that he was embracing the policy change, a lawmaker filed a bill to legalize marijuana through a state-run model.

A majority of Senate Democrats sent Wolf a letter in July arguing that legislators should pursue the policy change in order to generate revenue to make up for losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Top New York Official Responds To Marijuana Advocates’ Criticism Of Governor’s Legalization Plan

Photo courtesy of Twitter/John Fetterman.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Hawaii Could Legalize Psychedelic Mushroom Therapy Under New Senate Bill

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Hawaii could legalize the use of psychedelic mushrooms for therapy under a newly filed bill in the state legislature.

The measure, if approved, would direct the state Department of Health to “establish designated treatment centers for the therapeutic administration of psilocybin and psilocyn,” two psychoactive substances produced by certain fungi.

It would also remove the two compounds from the state’s list of Schedule I controlled substances and create a seven-person psilocybin review panel to assess the impacts of the policy change.

Few other specifics are provided in the bill, SB 738, introduced in the state Senate on Friday. It doesn’t specify who would qualify for the therapy, for example, or how precisely the drugs—which remain federally illegal—would be administered. The legislation simply says the Department of Health “shall adopt rules” in accordance with state law.

The new legislation comes less than a year after Hawaii lawmakers introduced bills to begin studying the therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms with the goal of eventually legalizing them, though those measures did not advance.

Entheogens—including other substances like ayahuasca and ibogaine—have emerged as a promising treatment for severe depression, anxiety and other conditions, although research remains ongoing.

In November, voters in Oregon approved a ballot measure to legalize psilocybin therapy that the state is now in the process of implementing.

The new Hawaii bill was introduced by Sens. Stanley Chang, Laura Clint Acasio, Les Ihara Jr. and Maile Shimabukuro, all Democrats. It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing, according to the state legislature’s website.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 400 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

The Hawaii proposal is one of a growing number of broader reform bills to have been introduced across the country this year as the debate on drug policy moves beyond marijuana. A measure introduced in New York earlier this month would remove criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of any controlled substance, instead imposing a $50 fine. Similar measures are expected to be introduced in California and Washington State this year.

A Florida lawmaker recently announced plans to introduce legislation to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes in the state.

Lawmakers in New Jersey last month sent a bill to Gov. Phil Murphy (D) that would reduce criminal charges for the possession of psilocybin, but so far Murphy hasn’t signed the measure.

Voters, meanwhile, have been broadly supportive of drug reform measures in recent years. In addition to the psilocybin. measure, Oregon voters in November also approved an initiative to decriminalize possession of all drugs. Washington, D.C. voters overwhelmingly enacted a proposal to decriminalize the possession of psychedelics.

Despite the growing discussion of drug reform at statehouses across the country, some high-profile advocates are setting their sights on the 2022 election. Dr. Bronner’s CEO David Bronner, a key financial backer of successful reform efforts in Oregon, told Marijuana Moment last month that he’s expecting both Washington state and Colorado voters will see decriminalization or psilocybin therapy on their 2022 ballots.

Meanwhile, a new advocacy group is pushing Congress to allocate $100 million to support research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.

New Psychedelics Reform Group Sets Sights On Congress As Movement Builds

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Workman

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Minnesota Governor Urges Lawmakers To Pursue Marijuana Legalization Amid Budget Talks

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The governor of Minnesota on Tuesday implored the legislature to look into legalizing marijuana as a means to boost the economy and promote racial justice.

During a briefing focused on his budget proposal for the 2022-23 biennium, Gov. Tim Walz (D) was asked whether he is open to allowing sports betting in the state to generate tax revenue. He replied he wasn’t closing the door on that proposal, but said he is more interested in seeing lawmakers “take a look at recreational cannabis.”

Not only would tax revenue from adult-use marijuana “dwarf” those collected through sports betting, he said, but legalization would also help address “the equity issue and, quite honestly, the racial impact of our cannabis laws.”

Watch the governor discuss marijuana legalization below: 

“I will say this, I will certainly leave open that possibility. Our neighboring states have done both of those things,” Walz said of legalizing sports gambling and cannabis. “I obviously recognize that that’s not a 100 percent slam dunk for people, and they realize that there’s cost associated with both. But my message would be is, I don’t think this is the time for me to say I’m shutting the door on anything.”

Walz did not include a request to legalize through his budget, however, as governors in some other states have.

The Minnesota governor did say in 2019, however, that he was directing state agencies to prepare to implement reform in anticipation of legalization passing.

Earlier this month, the House majority leader said he would again introduce a bill to legalize marijuana in the new session. And if Senate Republicans don’t go along with the reform, he said he hopes they will at least let voters decide on cannabis as a 2022 ballot measure.

Heading into the 2020 election, Democrats believed they had a shot of taking control of the Senate, but that didn’t happen. The result appears to be partly due to the fact that candidates from marijuana-focused parties in the state earned a sizable share of votes that may have otherwise gone to Democrats, perhaps inadvertently hurting the chances of reform passing.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman (D) said this month that “Senate Republicans remain the biggest obstacle to progress on this issue.”

“Minnesota’s current cannabis laws are doing more harm than good,” she told The Center Square. “By creating a regulatory framework we can address the harms caused by cannabis and establish a more sensible set of laws to improve our health care and criminal justice systems and ensure better outcomes for communities,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R), for his part, said that while he would be “open to expanding medical use or hearing criminal justice reforms,” he doesn’t “believe fully legalized marijuana is right for the state.”

“Other states that have legalized marijuana are having issues with public safety,” he argued, “and we are concerned that we haven’t fully seen how this works with employment issues, education outcomes and mental health.”

Last month, the Minnesota House Select Committee On Racial Justice adopted a report that broadly details race-based disparities in criminal enforcement and recommends a series of policy changes, including marijuana decriminalization and expungements.

Another factor that might add pressure on lawmakers to enact the reform is the November vote in neighboring South Dakota to legalize adult-use cannabis.

Also next door, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) is pushing lawmakers to enact marijuana reform and recently said that he is considering putting legalization in his upcoming budget request.

New Mexico Governor Pushes For Marijuana Legalization In State Of The State Address

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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