Five U.S. states voted on cannabis legislation during the 2020 elections. What happened? All five states passed their respective marijuana laws! These states include:
But why is this news important for the CBD industry?
We’ve talked about it before, but “cannabis,” by definition, encompasses both hemp and marijuana. The hemp industry (which includes CBD Choice!) and the marijuana industry are cousins. If one side of the industry is doing well, so is the other.
Remember: it was only in the last 25 years that the general public began to accept medical cannabis. We still have a lot of work to do! Plus, there’s still so much to learn about cannabis-derived compounds like CBD and THC. Cannabis legalization, regardless of whether it’s CBD or THC legalization, is essential to this research.
The 2020 elections also made one thing clear: Cannabis, USA, is on its way! What do we mean? Voters in 2020 showed the world that cannabis is now accepted both medically and recreationally within the United States. We want an end to the War on Drugs, and it starts with comprehensive cannabis legislation!
South Dakota, for example, was considered to be one of the most anti-cannabis and right-leaning states in the country and voted to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana at the same time. This simultaneous legalization has never been done before and shows that it’s possible in a handful of other states that don’t yet have medical marijuana laws.
Let’s take a look at all the recreational cannabis legislation passed during the 2020 elections! We will not take an in-depth look at Mississippi because they only passed medical marijuana legislation, not recreational marijuana legislation. Information on Mississippi Ballot Measure 1 can be found here.
Arizona Proposition 207
Voting results for Arizona Proposition 207:
- 60.03% voted YES (1,954,233 votes)
- 39.97% voted NO (1,300,950 votes)
Also known as the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative, this proposition legalizes recreational marijuana in the state of Arizona. For decades, Arizonans have been pushing for comprehensive cannabis legislation, making this victory bitter-sweet for longtime pro-cannabis advocates in the Grand Canyon State.
What Does Arizona Proposition 207 Do?
The Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative:
- Legalizes the possession and use of marijuana for individuals who are at least 21 years old.
- Enacts a 16% tax on marijuana sales in addition to Arizona’s existing transaction privilege tax and use tax.
- Permits individuals to grow no more than six marijuana plants in their residence. Plants must be kept within a lockable, enclosed area and beyond the view of the public.
- Allows anyone convicted of certain marijuana-related crimes – including possession, consumption, cultivation, and transportation – to petition for the expungement of their criminal record. Petitions may begin on July 12, 2021.
- Adopts a Social Equity Ownership Program (SEOP). This program will issue recreational marijuana licenses to businesses whose owners are from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the unjust War on Drugs. This primarily includes communities of color.
- Requires the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) to regulate marijuana businesses through licensing marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and production facilities.
- Provides local Arizona governments the power to ban marijuana facilities and testing centers within their boundaries. This gives local governments control over elements such as regulation, zoning, and licensing.
How Will Arizona Spend Marijuana Tax Revenue?
Arizona will divide revenue from recreational marijuana taxes to:
- Community College Districts
- Municipal Police, Sheriff, and Fire Departments
- Fire Districts
- The Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund
- A New Justice Reinvestment Fund
Who Will Receive the First Recreational Marijuana Licenses in Arizona?
According to Prop. 207, the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) must first accept license applications from existing non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries. Medical marijuana has been legal in Arizona since 2010. These medical marijuana dispensaries, if approved, will be eligible to sell both non-profit medical marijuana and for-profit recreational marijuana.
In addition to existing medical marijuana dispensaries, the Arizona DHS must also first accept applications from potential marijuana businesses in counties with only one (or zero) non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries.
Who Supported Arizona Proposition 207?
Smart and Safe Arizona led the campaign in support of the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The organization raised $5.47 million through October 17, 2020. The biggest contributors to Smart and Safe Arizona include:
- Harvest Enterprises, Inc., a marijuana firm, contributed $1.425 million.
- CuraLeaf, a medical marijuana business, contributed $750,000.
- Copperstate Farms, LLC, a marijuana firm, contributed $400,000.
Other supporting organizations of Arizona Prop. 207 include:
- ACLU of Arizona
- American Friends Service Committee
- Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice
- Arizona Dispensaries Association
- Black Male Voter Project
- Democracy for America
- NextGen Arizona
- Professional Firefighters of Arizona
Who Opposed Arizona Proposition 207?
Arizonans for Health and Public Safety led the campaign in opposition of Prop. 207. They raised $833,338 through October 17, 2020, signifying that anti-cannabis agendas no longer receive the financial backing of significant organizations. The biggest contributors to Arizonans for Health and Public Safety include:
- The Center for Arizona Policy Action, a non-profit, contributed $240,351.
- The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, who contributed $103,559.
Other opposing organizations of the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative include:
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Arizona Chapter
- Arizona Catholic Conference Bishops
- Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Arizona County Attorneys Association
- Arizona Free Enterprise Club
- Arizona Medical Association
- Arizona Sheriffs Association
- Arizona Trucking Association
- Center for Arizona Policy
- Greater Phoenix Chamber
- Smart Approaches to Marijuana
- The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints
The History of Cannabis in Arizona
Since 1996, Arizona has been a relatively pro-cannabis state. They began debating cannabis legalization in the mid-1990s following California’s Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California. However, it took Arizonians until 2010 to legalize medical marijuana. The state also failed to pass recreational marijuana initiatives in both 2016 and 2018.
Montana Initiative 190
Voting results for Montana Initiative 190:
- 56.9% voted YES (341,040 votes)
- 43.1% voted NO (258,336 votes)
Also known as the Montana Marijuana Legalization Initiative, this law allows for the possession and use of recreational marijuana. Montana also passed Montana CI-118, which ratifies the state constitution to allow for the Legislature or for a citizen’s initiative to determine a minimum legal age for marijuana. CI-118 regulates marijuana like alcohol in Big Sky’s state constitution.
Both Montana Initiative 190 and CI-118 will take effect on January 1, 2021.
What Does Montana Initiative 190 Do?
The Montana Marijuana Legalization Initiative:
- Legalizes the possession and use of marijuana products. This includes up to one ounce of marijuana flower or up to eight grams of marijuana concentrates.
- Allows individuals to grow no more than four marijuana plants and four seedlings for personal use. Plants must be grown inside residences, within an enclosed area that has a lock, and beyond the view of the public.
- Imposes a 20% tax on marijuana sales at retail shops.
- Allows for the resentencing or expungement of past marijuana-related crimes that are no longer considered “crimes” under Montana Initiative 190. Convicted persons must formally request resentencing or expungement, and outcomes are dependent on the circumstances surrounding the original crimes.
- Requires the Montana Department of Revenue to develop regulations for marijuana businesses. They must regulate the cultivation, manufacture, transport, and sale of marijuana within Montana’s borders. The Department of Revenue will begin accepting marijuana provider and dispensary applications on January 1, 2022.
- Authorizes local authorities to regulate (by ordinances or resolutions) marijuana establishments and testing facilities.
How Will Montana Spend Marijuana Tax Revenue?
Montana will first use marijuana tax revenue to reimburse the Department of Revenue for any administrative costs incurred while enforcing Montana Initiative 190. The rest of the tax revenue will then be allocated to:
- Montana’s General Fund
- Conservation Programs
- Veterans Programs
- Drug Addiction Treatment Programs
- Local Authorities Enforcing Montana Initiative 190
- Healthcare Workers
Who Supported Montana Initiative 190?
New Approach Montana led the campaign in support of both Initiative 190 and CI-118. The group raised $7.2 million through October 30, 2020. The biggest contributors to New Approach Montana include:
- The North Fund, a non-profit, contributed $4.8 million.
- New Approach PAC, who contributed $1.9 million.
Other supporting organizations of the Montana Marijuana Legalization Initiative include:
- Marijuana Policy Project
- Public Lands Coalition
- Sixteen Thirty Fund
Who Opposed Montana Initiative 190?
Only one committee formally registered in opposition to the Montana Marijuana Legalization Initiative: Wrong for Montana. The group reported raising $306,750 through October 30, 2020.
Other opposing organizations of the Montana Marijuana Legalization Initiative include:
- Montana Contractors Association
- Montana State Chamber of Commerce
The History of Cannabis in Montana
Montana legalized medical marijuana in 2004. Compared to other consistently right-leaning states, we give Montana big thumbs up! In fact, they openly supported the CBD industry after the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Other right-wing states – including South Dakota, who we’ll get to in a minute – tried to outright ban CBD despite the federal government’s legalization of the cannabinoid.
New Jersey Public Question 1
Voting results for New Jersey Public Question 1:
- 66.92% voted YES (2,504,006 votes)
- 33.08% voted NO (1,237,918 votes)
Also known as the NJ Marijuana Legalization Amendment, this legislation made New Jersey the first recreational cannabis state in the mid-Atlantic! Especially given the Garden State’s recent anti-cannabis past, we are happy to see New Jersey on this list!
The NJ Marijuana Legalization Amendment will take effect on January 1, 2021.
What Does New Jersey Public Question 1 Do?
The NJ Marijuana Legalization Amendment:
- Legalizes the possession and recreational use of marijuana for persons age 21 or older.
- Legalizes the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana.
- Applies the state’s 6.625% sales tax to recreational marijuana while prohibiting additional state sales taxes from being applied to the plant. However, local governments can enact an additional 2% sales tax on recreational marijuana.
- Establishes the five-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), which was first created to oversee New Jersey’s medical marijuana program in 2010, as the legislative body for recreational cannabis. The CRC must regulate the cultivation, processing, and sale of recreational marijuana.
What’s Missing from the NJ Marijuana Legalization Amendment?
While Public Question 1 does legalize recreational marijuana, it’s missing some important factors. These factors include:
- Possession limits
- Rules for growing marijuana at home
- Retail regulations
The CRC is responsible for determining these additional details. However, it is unclear if the CRC will need to expand beyond five members to meet the challenges of a broader industry.
Who Supported New Jersey Public Question 1?
NJ Can 2020 led the campaign in support of the NJ Marijuana Legalization Amendment. Campaign contributions were not immediately available. Other supporting organizations of the Public Question 1 include:
- ACLU of New Jersey
- American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp
- Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey
- Doctors for Cannabis Regulation
- Drug Policy Action
- Latino Action Network
- Law Enforcement Action Partnership
- NAACP New Jersey State Conference
- NJ CannaBusiness Association
Who Opposed the NJ Marijuana Legalization Amendment?
Don’t Let NJ Go to Pot led the opposition campaign against Public Question 1. Other opposing organizations include:
- NJ Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (RAMP)
- Republic County Chairmen’s Association
- Smart Approaches to Marijuana
The History of Cannabis in New Jersey
As we mentioned earlier, New Jersey legalized medical marijuana in 2010. However, they haven’t necessarily had a pro-cannabis track record. The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDH), among other state organizations, has yet to adopt an official stance on cannabis products, including CBD products. This left the integrity of the state’s cannabis market up in the air, but 2020’s legislative efforts have brought New Jersey into Cannabis, USA.
South Dakota Constitutional Amendment A
Voting results for South Dakota Constitutional Amendment A:
- 54.18% voted YES (225,260 votes)
- 45.82% voted NO (190,477 votes)
Also known as the SD Marijuana Legalization Amendment, this legislation ensures the Mount Rushmore State will have a bright, pro-cannabis future. In fact, South Dakota made the jump from the least cannabis-friendly state to the only other state to ever legalize both medical and recreational marijuana during the same ballot year. Along with Constitutional Amendment A, South Dakotans approved SD Initiated Measure 26, which allows patients with “debilitating medical conditions” to use cannabis products like marijuana.
The SD Marijuana Legalization Amendment also includes legislation for medical marijuana, stating that the State Legislature must pass laws for the use of medical marijuana and the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022.
What Does the SD Marijuana Legalization Amendment Do?
The SD Marijuana Legalization Amendment:
- Legalizes the recreational use of marijuana for individuals 21 years old and older.
- Allows for the possession and distribution of up to one ounce of marijuana.
- Allows individuals who live in a jurisdiction with NO licensed retail marijuana stores to grow up to three marijuana plants. Plants must be grown in a private residence in a locked space. However, no more than six marijuana plants can be kept in a single residence at one time, meaning roommates will have to figure out their marijuana arrangements accordingly!
- Implements a 15% tax on marijuana sales.
- Gives local governments the authority to ban marijuana cultivators, testing facilities, wholesalers, or retail stores from operating within local jurisdiction. However, local governments CANNOT prohibit the transport of marijuana on public roads.
How Will South Dakota Spend Marijuana Tax Revenue?
South Dakota will first use marijuana tax revenue to cover the costs incurred by the South Dakota Revenue Department while implementing Constitutional Amendment A. After the Revenue Department has been reimbursed, 50% of the remaining tax revenue will be appropriated to public schools, while the other 50% will be deposited into the state’s general fund.
Who Supported the SD Marijuana Legalization Amendment?
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws led the campaign in support of Constitutional Amendment A. Drey Samuelson, the political director of the group, led the charge in passing both the SD Marijuana Legalization Amendment and SD Initiated Measure 26, which legalized medical marijuana.
Other supporting organizations of the SD Marijuana Legalization Amendment include:
- Marijuana Policy Project
- New Approach PAC
Who Opposed South Dakota Constitutional Amendment A?
NO Way on Amendment A led the campaign in opposition of Constitutional Amendment A. The committee was filed by David Owen, president of South Dakota’s Chamber of Commerce. Other opposing organizations of the SD Marijuana Legalization Amendment include:
- Association of General Contractors
- Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce
- South Dakota Association of Cooperative
- South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations
- South Dakota Chamber of Commerce
- South Dakota Farm Bureau
- South Dakota Retailers Association
- South Dakota State Medical Association
The History of Cannabis in South Dakota
South Dakota was the least cannabis-friendly state in the USA until 2020. After the 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD products nationwide, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem tried to claim that cannabis products were still illegal and informally “banned” CBD within state lines. Until now, the state prohibited the manufacturing and retail sale of CBD products, but South Dakotans could still purchase CBD products online. However, we see a much brighter future for South Dakota when it comes to cannabis!
After the 2020 election cycle, there are now 15 U.S. states (including Washington, DC) with legal recreational cannabis. These states include:
- South Dakota
- Washington, DC
There are now 36 states with legal medical cannabis. Instead of listing these states, what states have yet to pass any pro-marijuana legislation?
- Georgia (CBD oil only)
- Indiana (CBD oil only)
- Iowa (CBD oil only)
- Kentucky (CBD oil only)
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- Texas (CBD oil only)
- Virginia (CBD oil only)
- Wisconsin (CBD oil only)
However, we believe that the United States will eventually become 100% on-board with both medical and recreational cannabis initiatives. The more research we see, the more support we see for cannabis, including CBD and THC!
Regardless of your political beliefs, however, we must recognize that scientific investment in cannabis research is essential. Scientific investigations can turn up revolutionary information, leading to groundbreaking health and wellness discoveries. Who knows what we’ll learn as access to cannabis research continues to unfold! Until then, get involved with your state and make 2022 the year when everyone passes cannabis legislation and ends the War on Drugs!