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These States Could Have Marijuana And Psychedelics Legalization On The Ballot In 2022

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Marijuana reform has advanced in numerous state legislatures in the first half of 2021, with lawmakers enacting four new legalization laws so far this year. Now, activists in roughly a dozen states are moving to put cannabis legalization proposals directly before voters in 2022.

Across the country, advocates are in the early stages of drafting proposals, collecting signatures and engaging in public outreach to build support for medical and recreational cannabis legalization measures that they hope to see voted on next year. In at least one state, activists are working to qualify a measure to legalize psychedelic mushrooms for next November’s ballot. And in others, lawmakers may take it upon themselves to put cannabis referendums up for the general election without the need for citizen petitions.

“Cannabis reform advocates have been winning ballot initiative campaigns in every single election cycle since 2012, and next year will be no different,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment. “Across the country, in red and blue states alike, Americans are sick and tired of criminalizing cannabis, a policy that has utterly failed by any reasonable metric. We don’t yet know exactly which states will have cannabis reform initiatives on the ballot next year, but they will emerge and I am confident that they will prevail on Election Day.”

Here’s a breakdown of where cannabis legalization and other drug policy reforms could be decided by voters in 2022, as well as a look at a handful of local efforts to enact marijuana policy changes via municipal ballot initiatives this year.

Arkansas

Arkansas activists are collecting signatures to place adult-use marijuana legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot.

The group, Arkansas True Grass, is proposing a system of regulated sales for adults 21 and older, allowing them to purchase up to four ounces of cannabis and grow up to 12 plants for personal use. There would be no limit on possession if it’s out of the public’s view.

True Grass and a separate groups of activists attempted to place marijuana legalization initiatives on the 2020 ballot, but both campaigns were derailed by the coronavirus pandemic and failed to collect enough signatures by the deadline.

California

California psychedelics activists recently filed a petition for the 2022 ballot to make the state the first in the nation to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for any use.

The measure—titled the California Psilocybin Initiative—would legalize the “personal, medical, therapeutic, religious, spiritual, and dietary use of Psilocybin Mushrooms” for adults 21 and older.

Further, the initiative would allow for the cultivation, retail sale, social sharing and on-site consumption of the psychedelic.

Decriminalize California attempted to get a similar measure on the November 2020 ballot, but they faced signature gathering complications due to the coronavirus pandemic and ultimately abandoned that effort.

Idaho

Advocates in Idaho are working to advance separate measures to legalize possession of recreational marijuana and to create a system of legal medical cannabis sales.

State officials recently cleared activists to begin collecting signatures for a revised initiative to legalize possession of marijuana that they hope to place before voters on the 2022 ballot.

The legalization initiative would be fairly limited in scope compared to those that have passed in other states. It would make it so possession of up to three ounces of marijuana would be lawful on private property for adults 21 and older.

Home cultivation would be prohibited, however, and there would be no legal and licensed system of cannabis retailers. The idea is for consumers to be able to buy cannabis in neighboring states that have legal retail operations and then bring the product back to Idaho to be consumed privately at home.

Meanwhile, a separate campaign to legalize medical cannabis in the state is also underway, with advocates actively collecting signatures to qualify that measure for next year’s ballot.

Under the proposal, qualifying patients would be able to purchase and possess up to four ounces of marijuana. Those with a “hardship designation” could also cultivate up to six plants.

The initiative lists twelve conditions that would make a patient eligible for medical cannabis, but it also extends to any terminal disease or severe chronic illness. The state health department would be able to add additional conditions as it sees fit.

A 2020 effort to put medical marijuana legalization before Idaho voters was impeded by the coronavirus pandemic.

Maryland

Maryland’s House speaker recently pledged that lawmakers will pass legislation to put the question of marijuana legalization before voters as a referendum on the 2022 ballot. She’s formed a cannabis working group to assess the best way to structure the reform.

“The House will pass legislation early next year to put this question before the voters but we need to start looking at changes needed to State law now,” Speaker Adrienne Jones (D) said in a press release.

Legalization legislation did begin to move through the legislature this session, but no votes were ultimately held.

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing in March on a legalization bill sponsored by top lawmakers, including the body’s president, majority leader and key committee chairs. That followed a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a separate cannabis proposal in February.

Lawmakers had worked to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate proposals in the hopes of getting something to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who has not endorsed legalization but has signaled he may be open to considering the idea.

Mississippi

No initiatives have been filed for the 2022 ballot so far, but advocates say it’s possible a campaign could launch if the legislature fails to enact medical cannabis legalization during a special session this year or ends up passing a bill that has less robust patient protections than they want.

A medical marijuana measure was overwhelmingly approved by voters during the 2020 election, but the state Supreme Court shot it down following a legal challenge to the entire ballot system.

Missouri

A group of Missouri marijuana activists recently a number of separate initiatives to put marijuana reform on the state’s 2022 ballot, a move that comes as other advocacy groups are preparing separate efforts to collect signatures for cannabis ballot petitions of their own. Meanwhile, still other activists are focusing on getting the legislature to pass a resolution to place the question of legalization before voters next year.

One group, Fair Access Missouri, is exploring multiple citizen initiatives with the hopes of getting at least one on the ballot next year. Several proposals they’ve filed 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 purpose of the measures is to “permit the safe and legal use of cannabis by adults over the age of 21 and to responsibly regulate the cultivation, processing, manufacturing, and distribution of cannabis,” the text states. “The people of Missouri have a right to enjoy the benefits of their labor free from unreasonable regulation.”

This group isn’t alone in working to put legalization on the 2022 ballot. New Approach Missouri, which successfully got a medical cannabis initiative passed by voters in 2018, is also planning to file a broader reform initiative soon through its campaign committee Legal Missouri 2022. Details of the proposal have yet to be released, however.

Nebraska

Nebraska marijuana activists are gearing up for a “mass scale” campaign to put medical cannabis legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot after the legislature failed to pass a bill to enact the reform this session.

And since the state Supreme Court invalidated a measure that qualified for the 2020 ballot based on a statutory challenge, voters can expect to see two complementary initiatives that are currently being vetted by lawyers to ensure that opponents can’t leverage the legal system to block the policy change again.

To avoid a single subject challenge, the plan is to put separate statutory initiatives before voters that would direct the legislature to pass a bill establishing legal protections for patients and doctors around cannabis and also to require lawmakers to pass legislation allowing private companies to produce and sell medical marijuana products.

Sens. Anna Wishart (D) and Adam Morfeld (D) have been involved in the medical cannabis campaign, and the pair announced in December that they would also work to put the question of legalizing marijuana for adult use before voters in 2022—though it’s not clear if they still intend to pursue the broader reform.

Nebraska’s attorney general argued in an opinion in 2019 that efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the state would be preempted by federal law and “would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”

North Dakota

After a House-passed bill to legalize marijuana in North Dakota was rejected by the Senate in March, some senators hatched a plan to advance the issue by referring it to voters on the 2022 ballot. While their resolution advanced through a key committee, the full Senate blocked it.

However, activists with the group North Dakota Cannabis Caucus are collecting signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis for the 2022 ballot.

A separate group, Legalize ND, is also planning to push for a legalization ballot measure, though details of that initiative are yet to be seen. Legalize ND placed a legalization measure on the 2018 ballot that was defeated by voters. They tried to qualify another initiative last year but signature gathering complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic got in the way.

Ohio

Ohio marijuana activists recently unveiled a new plan to legalize cannabis in the state via the ballot as lawmakers pursue separate reform legislation.

Voters rejected a 2015 legalization initiative, and advocates suspended a campaign to place another measure on the 2020 ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic. But more recently, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) launched a new effort to implore legislators to enact the policy change.

The proposed law that CTRMLA is pushing would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and they could also have up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals could grow up to six plants for personal use, with a maximum 12 plants per household.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma advocates are pushing two separate initiatives to legalize marijuana for adult use and overhaul the state’s existing medical cannabis program.

While the goal is to place both measures on the 2022 ballot, the proponents say that the intent is to have them work in parallel, complimenting and even overlapping with each other.

The medical marijuana initiative would create a new state agency to regulate all types of legal cannabis, including hemp and high-THC marijuana, and it would establish funding for programs including research, environmental remediation and mental health services.

The adult-use proposal, meanwhile, would allow any adult 21 and older to purchase marijuana products from existing dispensaries. Individuals could also grow up to 12 cannabis plants at home and keep or give away the marijuana it produces.

Oklahoma activists had previously attempted to qualify a legalization measure for the 2020 ballot. They filed a petition to legalize cannabis for adult use in December 2019, but signature gathering fell short due in part to procedural delays and the coronavirus pandemic.

South Dakota

South Dakota activists recently filed four separate legalization measures with the state Legislative Research Council—the first step toward putting the issue before voters next year if the state Supreme Court upholds a lower court ruling that overturned the legal cannabis measure that voters approved last November.

The four initiatives share some basic provisions, but they each take a unique approach to the policy change. There’s also a fifth measure that the group is backing which would eliminate a single-subject rule for the ballot process—a policy that led to a state judge deeming a 2020 recreational measure unconstitutional.

Wyoming

Activists are seeking to put separate measures to legalize medical cannabis and decriminalize adult-use marijuana before voters next year—and the secretary of state’s office recently approved the latest version of their proposed ballot language, freeing up advocates to gather a requisite 100 signatures per initiative in order to proceed to the next step.

The Libertarian Party and state Rep. Marshall Burt (L) partnered with advocates to unveil the initial drafts of the proposals in June. The campaign, which is also being supported by Wyoming NORML, came after state lawmakers advanced but failed to pass a bill to legalize marijuana this session.

The final text of the medical cannabis proposal states that patients could purchase and possess up to four ounces of flower and 20 grams of “medical marijuana-derived products” in a 30-day period.

People with any of more than a dozen qualifying conditions—including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia—would also be able to cultivate up to eight mature plants for personal use.

Meanwhile, activists’ separate decriminalization measure would impose small fines on people possessing up to four ounces of marijuana, without the threat of jail time. A first and second offense would be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine, while a third and any subsequent offense would penalized by a $75 fine. Cultivating marijuana would be punishable by a maximum $200 fine.

A bill to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use in Wyoming advanced out of a House committee in March, but it did not move further in the legislature by the end of the session.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 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.

Local Reform Measures

While advocates are hard at work pushing the marijuana and psychedelics reform initiatives at the state level for 2022, activists are also pursuing policy changes locally in cities across the country for this year.

Ohio

In Ohio, 22 jurisdictions have adopted local statues that reduce the penalty for low-level cannabis possession from a misdemeanor punishable by jail time and a fine to the “lowest penalty allowed by state law.” And activists are pursuing similar policy changes in dozens of cities this year.

Don Keeney, executive director of NORML Appalachia, recently told Marijuana Moment that local officials have so far certified decriminalization initiatives in five cities they were targeting this year: Laurelville, McArthur, Murray City, New Lexington and New Straitsville—and more could be on the way.

South Carolina

The Ohio-based Sensible Movement Coalition (SMC) that’s actively working to put decriminalization measures before voters in that state is also branching out to bring reform to South Carolina.

Activists are targeting Charleston, Folly Beach, Myrtle Beach and St. James Island to enact the policy change.

Texas

A newly established Texas progressive group recently unveiled a campaign to put an initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession and ban no-knock warrants on this November’s ballot in Austin.

Ground Game Texas, a nonprofit led by former Democratic congressional candidates, isn’t exclusively focused on cannabis reform—but it’s made the issue a priority and is addressing it in the first of what’s expected to be many local ballot measures across the state.

The “Austin Freedom Act” seeks to end arrests and citations for misdemeanor marijuana possession within the city. Also, it says police cannot issue citations for residue or paraphernalia in lieu of a possession charge.

The measure would further prohibit the use of city funds to request or test cannabis to determine whether it meets the state’s definition of a lawful product. Hemp is legal in the state, creating complications for law enforcement, as they are now tasked with determining if seized cannabis products are in compliance with state statute.

The group is also considering pursuing cannabis measures in other cities across the state.

West Virginia

The Ohio-based SMC is also working to get decriminalization put on local ballots in several West Virginia cities: Clarksburg, McMechen, Salem and Wheeling.

Bernie Sanders Talks Marijuana ‘Differences’ With Biden, Who He Says Could Enact Reforms But Chooses Not To

Photo courtesy of Democracy Chronicles.

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California Activists Cleared To Collect Signatures For Psilocybin Legalization Ballot Initiative

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California activists are now cleared to begin collecting signatures for an initiative to legalize psilocybin mushrooms in the state.

On Thursday, the state attorney general’s office issued an official title and summary for the proposal, which advocates are aiming to place on the 2022 ballot. Decriminalize California, the group behind the initiative, has a steep task ahead of it to gather enough signatures to qualify—but they’ve been gearing up for the push.

The measure—titled the California Psilocybin Initiative—would allow the “personal, medical, therapeutic, religious, spiritual, and dietary use of Psilocybin Mushrooms” for adults 21 and older. Further, the initiative would allow for the cultivation, retail sale, social sharing and on-site consumption of the psychedelic.

While the measure would legalize psilocybin sales under state law, the attorney general’s title and summary uses the word “decriminalize,” a term that some advocates view as more palatable to people who might not necessarily be inclined to support a commercial model for the psychedelic.

“For individuals 21 and over, decriminalizes under state law the cultivation, manufacture, processing, distribution, transportation, possession, storage, consumption, and retail sale of psilocybin mushrooms, the hallucinogenic chemical compounds contained in them, and edible products and extracts derived from psilocybin mushrooms,” the summary says.

Activists must now collect 623,212 valid signatures from registered voters within 180 days to make the ballot.

Ryan Munevar, campaign director of Decriminalize California, told Marijuana Moment that his team has a multi-pronged approach to make that happen.

They currently have about 2,800 people who’ve volunteered to assist in the signature collection process, he said.

Volunteers will solicit support at farmers markets and other events across the state. People can fill out a form online to be approved as a circulator, and then they can sign the petition themselves and mail it in to the campaign. Individual stores can sign up to receive petitions and serve as conduits for signature gathering. And the campaign could also use the state’s voter database to mail out petitions themselves that voters can sign.

“I feel pretty damn good honestly [about the prospects of the initiative]. People are so psyched for psychedelics,” Munevar said, adding that the recent decision to pause a psychedelics reform bill in the legislature until next year means “this is the only action that’s really there, and the language is just fantastic.”

If the group is successful, it would be a historic policy change, making California the first in the nation to broadly legalize psilocybin mushrooms for medical and recreational purposes. Oregon voters approved an initiative last year to legalize the entheogen for therapeutic use alone.

A recent fiscal analysis of the proposed measure save the state millions in enforcement costs and also generate state and local tax revenue. However, the officials also tempered expectations by pointing out that setting up the regulatory scheme for a legal psilocybin market could initially cost millions. But that could “eventually be partially or fully offset by fee revenue.”

Activists filed the petition with state officials in July. That initiated a 30-day public comment period that lasted until August 11.

If approved in November 2022, the would be no limits on personal possession—a policy that has stirred controversy in the state legislature over separate legislation to legalize possession of a wide range of psychedelics that passed the Senate but has been placed on hold until next year after clearing two Assembly committees.

The sponsor of that bill, Sen. Scott Wiener (D), recent said that the move is part of the “complicated legislative process” to get reform enacted, and he’s confident it will ultimately prevail.

While the California ballot proposal goes further than the Oregon psilocybin measure, it does still have a specific medical component.

Healthcare professionals “may recommend Psilocybin or Psilocybin Mushrooms for use in minors and adults under the age of 21, for the treatment of specific and appropriate indications,” it says.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture would be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the program overall. Meanwhile the state Department of Consumer Affairs and the Health and Human Services Agency would be required to “adopt and implement the qualification requirements and protocols for Psilocybin Mushroom-assisted therapy created by an independent professional certifying body. ”

Activists made a concerted effort in the measure to ensure the psilocybin products are generally treated like other legal commodities. For example, the products would not be subject to any licensing requirements, fees or taxes that “exceed the amount charged or assessed for comparable non-Psilocybin Mushroom related businesses.”

Psilocybin that’s sold for “medical, therapeutic, religious or spiritual purposes” wouldn’t be subject to any sales or excise tax at all. Those that are marketed as dietary supplements would be taxed “at the local sales tax rate at the point of sale.”

“Psilocybin Mushrooms and Psilocybin Mushroom Businesses shall be regulated as closely as practicable to non-psychoactive agriculturally produced mushrooms” except for specific labelling requirements, the measure says. The labels must include a universal symbol and a warning statement advising consumers to keep them out of reach of children and advising about impairment. Packaging must also explain the content of product, including milligrams of active ingredients per package and per serving.

Researchers, healthcare professionals and therapists would have specific protections related to psilocybin that are carved into the initiative. The psychedelic also couldn’t be used as the sole basis to revoke parental rights.

“Starting January 1, 2023, any Psilocybin Mushroom Business operating on land that is zoned for commercial agricultural production and approved by the COPA for food production can begin the cultivation, manufacturing, and wholesale distribution of Psilocybin Mushrooms,” the measure states. “Starting April 19, 2023, any business that is incorporated in California and possesses a California Seller’s Permit can begin retail sales.”

Local jurisdictions would be able to ban or limit psilocybin businesses from operating in their area if voters approve the restriction via citizen initiative or a petition submitted by a governing body.

Except for safety-sensitive positions “no person shall refuse to provide services or benefits or increase the charge for services or benefits, based on the lawful use, cultivation, possession, storage, or sales of Psilocybin Mushrooms,” it says.

Decriminalize California attempted to get a similar measure on the November 2020 ballot, but they faced signature gathering complications due to the coronavirus pandemic and ultimately abandoned that effort.

Read the full title and summary of the psilocybin measure below:

CA psilocybin initiative su… by Marijuana Moment

Washington State Activists Announce 2022 Drug Decriminalization Ballot Campaign

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Workman.

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South Dakota Marijuana Activists Gear Up For Large-Scale 2022 Legalization Ballot Push

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South Dakota marijuana activists are ramping up for a signature gathering effort to put legalization on the 2022 ballot as the state Supreme Court continues to consider a case on the fate of the legal cannabis measure that voters approved last year.

Advocates are still holding out hope that the top court will issue a positive ruling in the case. But no action was announced on Thursday’s weekly decision day for the justices—and because time is running short to mobilize a ballot campaign to qualify for 2022—South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws is now soliciting volunteers to prepare for a massive signature collection drive on any of the four proposed legalization initiatives that the group has filed so far in case the 2020 measure is indeed overturned. 

Matthew Schweich, deputy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which has played a leading role in coordinating reform efforts in South Dakota, told Marijuana Moment that advocates “remain hopeful” that the court will uphold the will of voters, but they aren’t taking anything for granted.

“We must prepare for the worst,” he said. “So we are building a grassroots volunteer signature drive operation across the state in order to qualify another cannabis legalization initiative for the 2022 ballot. We need our supporters to once again donate their time and energy to ensure that the will of the people is respected in South Dakota.”

Activists already got the ball rolling in July, filing the reform measures with the state Legislative Research Council, which is the first step toward putting the issue before voters next year.

The four potential initiatives share some basic provisions, but they each take a unique approach to the policy change. Activists have also filed a fifth measure to eliminate a single-subject rule for the ballot process—a policy that led to a state judge deeming the 2020 recreational measure unconstitutional.

Advocates recognize that the state’s ballot laws mean that they are up against the clock to get any of the measures approved for circulation and to collect enough to qualify. And as the court contemplates the fate of the voter-approved initiative, the campaign is encouraging prospective volunteers to fill out a form to get prepared for signature gathering.

Now that they’ve gone through reviews by the Legislative Research Council, the initiatives must be accepted by the state attorney general and secretary of state. At that point, advocates will have until November 8 to collect at least 33,921 valid signatures for a constitutional proposal and 16,961 for a statutory measure, depending on what direction they choose to take.

Here’s what each of the four potential legalization proposals would do:

Constitutional Approach 1

  • Possession of up to one ounce would be legal for adults 21 and older.
  • People could grow up to three plants for personal use. For households with more than one adult, there would be a six-plant cap.
  • The legislature would be required to develop regulations for licensing of retail sale, cultivation, processing and testing.
  • Public consumption would be banned and punishable by a civil fine.
  • Employers would not be prevented from imposing restrictions on workers’ marijuana use.

Constitutional Approach 2

  • Possession of up to one ounces would be legal for adults 21 and older.
  • People could grow up to three plants for personal use. For households with more than one adult, there would be a six-plant cap.
  • Retail sales would not be legalized by the measure, but it wouldn’t prevent lawmakers from enacting commercialization later.
  • Public consumption would be banned and punishable by a civil fine.
  • Employers would not be prevented from imposing restrictions on workers’ marijuana use.

Statutory Approach 1

  • Possession of up to one ounces would be legal for adults 21 and older.
  • People could grow up to three plants for personal use. For households with more than one adult, there would be a six-plant cap. People could not cultivate their own plants, however, if they lived in a jurisdiction that has marijuana retailers.
  • The Department of Revenue would be responsible for developing regulations and issuing cannabis business licenses.
  • Regulators would have until July 1, 2023 to issue rules for the program.
  • They would have to approve enough licenses to mitigate the influence of the illicit market, but not so many that the industry becomes oversaturated.
  • A 15 percent excise tax would be imposed on marijuana sales.
  • After covering the costs of implementation, half of the remaining tax revenue would go to the state’s public schools and the other half would go to the general fund.
  • Localities would be able to opt out of allowing cannabis businesses to operate in their jurisdiction.
  • Public consumption would be banned and punishable by a civil fine.
  • Employers would not be prevented from imposing restrictions on workers’ marijuana use.

Statutory Approach 2

  • Possession of up to one ounces would be legal for adults 21 and older.
  • People could grow up to three plants for personal use. For households with more than one adult, there would be a six-plant cap.
  • Curiously, while sales would not be legalized by this measure, it also contains a provision that says home cultivation is only allowed in jurisdictions that don’t have marijuana retailers. Lawmakers would be able to enact commercialization later, however.
  • Public consumption would be banned and punishable by a civil fine.
  • Employers would not be prevented from imposing restrictions on workers’ marijuana use.

While advocates remain frustrated over the February ruling that invalidated the 2020 adult-use legalization initiative—and the ongoing delay in the Supreme Court’s decision on upholding or overturning that decision—they’re at least encouraged that the separate medical cannabis measure that voters approved approved took effect in July.

Outside of South Dakota, advocates across the county are also already working on number of state-level cannabis initiatives for 2022.

New Hampshire lawmakers are pursuing a new strategy to legalize marijuana in the state that involves putting a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for voters to decide on in 2022.

Lawmakers in Maryland are also crafting legislation to place a marijuana legalization referendum on the 2022 ballot after the House speaker called for the move.

Nebraska marijuana activists announced recently that they have turned in a pair of complementary initiatives to legalize medical cannabis that they hope to place on the state’s 2022 ballot.

Ohio activists recently cleared a final hurdle to begin collecting signatures for a 2022 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the state.

Missouri voters may see a multiple marijuana initiatives on the state’s ballot next year, with a new group filing an adult-use legalization proposal that could compete with separate reform measures that are already in the works.

Arkansas advocates are collecting signatures to place adult-use marijuana legalization on the ballot.

Activists in Idaho are working to advance separate measures to legalize possession of recreational marijuana and to create a system of legal medical cannabis sales. State officials recently cleared activists to begin collecting signatures for a revised initiative to legalize possession of marijuana that they hope to place before voters on the 2022 ballot. Meanwhile, a separate campaign to legalize medical cannabis in the state is also underway, with advocates actively collecting signatures to qualify that measure for next year’s ballot.

After a House-passed bill to legalize marijuana in North Dakota was rejected by the Senate in March, some senators hatched a plan to advance the issue by referring it to voters on the 2022 ballot. While their resolution advanced through a key committee, the full Senate blocked it. However, activists with the group North Dakota Cannabis Caucus are collecting signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis for the 2022 ballot.

Oklahoma advocates are pushing two separate initiatives to legalize marijuana for adult use and overhaul the state’s existing medical cannabis program.

Wyoming’s attorney general recently issued ballot summaries for proposed initiatives to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize cannabis possession, freeing up activists to collect signatures to qualify for the 2022 ballot.

New Hampshire Lawmakers Take First Step To Put Marijuana Legalization On 2022 Ballot

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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New Jersey Has Expunged A Third Of A Million Marijuana Convictions Since July

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The New Jersey Judiciary announced on Thursday that the state has expunged more than 362,000 marijuana cases since July 1, when a decriminalization law took effect that mandated the relief for people who have been caught up in prohibition enforcement. The courts also said that they will be launching a public education campaign next week to help even more people understand the opportunities for relief under the law.

In the meantime, roughly 1,200 people have also been released from probation since their cannabis expungements were processed.

The courts previously estimated that around 360,000 people were eligible for relief under the new law, so it appears that the review process has effectively identified most of those cases.

These actions, first reported by NJ.com, come after state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner issued an order in July that also makes it so certain pending marijuana cases must be dismissed, and failure to appear warrants must be rescinded.

“Cases with offenses eligible for expungement include certain marijuana or hashish charges alone or in combination with the following: possession of drug paraphernalia; use or being under the influence of a controlled, dangerous substance; and failure to make lawful disposition of a controlled, dangerous substance,” the Judiciary said in its update on Thursday.

Those who aren’t automatically eligible for expungement can still file a motion for judicial review, it said. The Administrative Office of the Courts also plans to launch an “awareness campaign” on September 20 to “inform the public of the opportunities available through the Marijuana Decriminalization Law.”

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed companion marijuana legalization and decriminalization bills in February. The legislature was required to pass the former measure after voters approved a reform referendum during the November 2020 election.

“With our new cannabis laws, we are turning the page on the failed War on Drugs and ensuring social justice here in New Jersey,” the governor said in a tweet about the recent record clearing moves.

New Jersey officials have separately been proactive about cannabis reform implementation since the legalization bill was enacted.

The day after Murphy signed the legalization legislation, then-Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) directed prosecutors to drop cases for cannabis-related offenses and issued separate guidance for police on how to proceed under the updated laws.

The attorney general also encouraged prosecutorial discretion for marijuana cases in earlier memos prior to the bill’s signing.

Grewal also took steps to ensure that people aren’t exploiting provisions of the legalization law before retail sales launch. In June, he sent warning letters to companies that were effectively circumventing the state’s marijuana laws by “gifting” cannabis in exchange for non-marijuana-related purchases such as overpriced cookies, brownies and stickers.

Gifting is lawful between adults 21 and older under New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis law, but a number of businesses have allegedly taken advantage of that policy by giving away “free” cannabis products to those who purchase other items like snacks and baked goods.

No retail marijuana businesses have been licensed since the state enacted recreational legalization earlier this year. But regulators approved initial rules for the program last month that will set up the state’s retail market.

More than 70 percent of municipalities in the state have opted to ban cannabis businesses from operating in their area, but voters haven’t had a direct say in the local decisions so far, with local officials making the choice through city councils.

That said, elected officials from several areas who do support cannabis commercialization chose to enact a ban ahead of an August 22 deadline simply to give themselves more time to develop individualized regulations before greenlighting marijuana companies.

Missouri Spends Millions In Medical Marijuana Tax Revenue To Support Veterans Programs

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