Despite the federal government's efforts to keep marijuana classified as an illegal Schedule I drug, keeping hundreds of thousands of Americans incarcerated and denying others access to medical care they need, some states are wising up and taking the matter into their own hands. Nine states - California, Nevada, Maine, Arizona, Massachusetts, Florida, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota - are voting to legalize marijuana on November 8. If you're in one of these states, make sure you get to the polls and have your voice heard.
LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL USE
California, Nevada, Maine, Arizona, and Massachusetts are all voting on legalizing marijuana for recreational use. California will vote on Prop 64, Nevada on Question 2, Maine on Question 1, Arizona on Prop 205, and Massachusetts on Question 4.
These measures have many similar points. All allow for the possession of at least 1 ounce of marijuana, with Maine allowing up to 2.5 ounces, and Massachusetts allowing up to 10 ounces in an enclosed, locked space in your residence. It may not be consumed in public, with the exception of businesses specifically licensed to allow it on site.
These laws also allow for the private cultivation of at least 6 plants, although the small print in Nevada states that you must live over 25 miles away from a dispensary to grow your own. The proposals in Maine, Arizona, and Massachusetts also specify that all marijuana grown at the residence may legally be stored there as well.
Taxation, however, will be heavy. In California, the law proposes a tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves for cultivation, as well as a 15% sales tax. The law also allows local cities and municipalities to levy their own taxes on top of these rates, which could skyrocket prices in some areas of the state.
Nevada would tax only the cultivation, at a rate of 15%, whereas Arizona and Maine would tax only the sale, at 15% and 10% respectively. Massachusetts will tax the sale of marijuana at the regular sales tax rate, plus 3.75%. These rates don't include what local municipalities might add on top of that.
LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA FOR MEDICAL USE
Florida is voting for the second time to legalize marijuana for medical use. This measure, Amendment 2, would allow for a physician to recommend marijuana for a specific group of debilitating diseases: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis. The measure is rather specific, and will not apply to medical patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and other illnesses where marijuana has been shown to provide relief.
Arkansas is voting on Issue 6, also known as The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016, which would allow physicians to recommend marijuana to qualified patients. The state would, however, tax the cultivation, forbid private cultivation, and allow voters to ban the sale and cultivation in their own municipality. There was also a competing issue (Issue 7) on the ballot, but as of October 27 was removed from the ballot, due to invalid signatures for the measure. Issue 7 would have allowed for private cultivation, but also allowed for the legislature to essentially repeal the law with a two-thirds majority.
Montana is actually voting to reinstate their rights to have access to medical marijuana with I-182. Voters legalized it before in 2004, but legislators slowly added more and more regulations until Senate Bill 423, which all but made it impossible to get a physician's recommendation. This bill will repeal Senate Bill 423.
North Dakota will be voting on Measure 5. This measure specifies the instances in which medical marijuana use is permitted, but will be more flexible than that of Florida. Any conditions with chronic pain nausea, or more that has not reacted to other medication or surgery will qualify for a marijuana recommendation. In addition, patients will be able to petition their Department of Health if their condition is not allowed and could be alleviated.
HOW SHOULD I VOTE ON NOVEMBER 8?
Its important to note that there were over 640,000 people arrested for violating various marijuana laws across the country in 2015 alone, (most of them charged) and thousands more still locked away for similar offenses. Updating our outdated marijuana laws could prevent thousands of unnecessary arrests and reduce sentences for non-violent offenders - essentially allowing these people to get their lives back.
The taxation will become a burden on medical patients, recreational users, and businesses alike. Medical patients with a valid Physician's Recommendation would be exempt from the sales tax in most cases, though may be indirectly affected by the increase in taxes on cultivation and high business licensing costs. Another outdated law passed in the 80s prevents legal marijuana businesses from taking any tax deductions on federal income taxes, thus hiking the tax rate to up to 70% in some cases.
Each measure is different, and should be analyzed to make sure there are no strings attached and negative side effects, especially for medical patients. You can usually find the details of each bill on your individual state websites and/or sample ballot books, or with a quick google search.
- November 05, 2016
- Speakeasy Admin