Recreational marijuana on the ballot in these states this November
(NEXSTAR) – The ever-growing list of states where people can legally buy recreational marijuana could get a little longer this fall.
Recreational marijuana is already legal in 19 states, and legalization proposals are on the ballot this fall in South Dakota, North Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri and Maryland.
An Oklahoma group succeeded in getting the required signatures necessary for a referendum, but the Oklahoma Supreme Court ultimately ruled there wasn’t enough time to get the question onto ballots by November. The vote will likely be delayed until 2024, unless the governor or legislature calls for a special election.
Backers of the Missouri ballot proposal are highlighting a provision that would erase past marijuana-related convictions for nonviolent offenders and those whose conviction didn’t include selling to minors or driving while high.
Despite 60% of Americans supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana in a 2021 Pew Research poll – and over 90% saying either medical or recreational pot should be legal – it doesn’t appear that federal law will be changing any time soon.
In July, Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker and Ron Wyden released a bill to legalize marijuana, but the legislation appears unlikely to have the 60 votes it would need to pass.
Recreational marijuana is currently legal in the following states:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
States that recently voted to legalize recreational marijuana are now working to navigate the new regulations that come with it. In New York, where recreational marijuana was approved in March, 2021, more than 900 would-be dispensary operators have applied to be part of the first wave of retailers.
“We look forward to building the nation’s most equitable and diverse cannabis market,” the cannabis office tweeted in late September. The state will start by initially making 150 licenses available – all will go to people with past pot convictions or who have relatives charged with marijuana crimes. There’s no exact date yet for sales to begin in New York, which is expected to become one of the country’s biggest legal cannabis markets.
Other states where recreational marijuana has been legal for years already find themselves confronting different post-rollout challenges.
In California, where recreational pot was first sold in 2018, state officials are now working to protect the legal market.
Last week, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the seasonal multi-agency effort to eradicate illegal weed will become a year-round efforts.
“The illicit marketplace outweighs the legal marketplace” Bonta said. “It’s upside down and our goal is complete eradication of the illegal market.”
Meantime, groups in several states are working to get legal recreational marijuana on the ballot in upcoming elections.
Referendum efforts already underway in Florida, Nebraska, Wyoming and Ohio, along with Oklahoma, that could land the question on ballots in 2023 or 2024.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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