image for article

US Voters To Consider State & Local Cannabis Policy Reform

Marijuana Policy Initiatives On The Ballot Tuesday

As is the case this time of year, state and local elections will be held throughout the US Tuesday. Accordingly, voters in Maine, Colorado, and Michigan could continue the cannabis reform momentum from election season 2012.

The 2012 elections famously resulted in legal cannabis in Colorado and Washington. Similarly, Oregon fell just shy of majority support (47%) for marijuana legalization.

Colorado Voters Will Decide How To Tax Marijuana

This time around, voters in Colorado have the biggest decision to make, according to Medical Marijuana Business Daily. They will vote on how to regulate the legal, adult-use cannabis market, set to open for business January 1.

“Medical marijuana patients would be exempt from the Proposition AA excise tax.”

Proposition AA is a ballot initiative that would impose a 15% tax on wholesale cannabis transactions in Colorado, and a 10% tax on retail sales as well. Mind you, these will be in conjunction with local and state sales taxes. With that said, medical marijuana patients would be exempt from the Proposition AA excise tax.

The initiative does face some opposition from advocacy groups and entrepreneurs who believe higher prices could drive people back to the black market. Supporters of the measure, however, contend that the taxes are necessary for robust industry regulation.

Michigan Cities Will Consider Cannabis Decriminalization

Further East, three cities in Michigan – Jackson, Ferndale, and Lansing – will allow voters to decide whether to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis (less than one ounce).

Lansing, the state’s capital, would become the “last of the major Michigan cities to have (marijuana decriminalization) reform,” according to Jeffrey Hank, an attorney in the city.

“It’s important to send a message and to take a position as a capital city.” – Jeffrey Hank

Decriminalization charters have already passed in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Flint, and Ypsilanti. According to a quote in the Drug War Chronicle, Hank said, “It’s important to send a message and to take a position as a capital city.”

That being said, passage of the measures in Michigan would have no direct effect on state law, according to the attorney general’s chief legal counsel Matthew Schneider. “Regardless of whether the proposed amendment is approved by the voters, marijuana will remain a controlled substance under state and federal law,” he said.

Portland, Maine Could Pass Legal Marijuana Legislation

Voters in Maine’s largest city, Portland, will decide whether to legalize the adult-use of cannabis in the city Tuesday as well.

Question 1 – “the ballot initiative to remove penalties for adult marijuana possession in Portland” – would allow those 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis without penalty.

“This is just the next domino.”– David Boyer

The measure gained national media attention early last month when the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) placed ads on the sides of Portland busses in support of Question 1.

In the event that Question 1 passes, Portland would become the first city on the East coast to legalize marijuana. Similar to the situation in Michigan, however, passage of the initiative would have little direct effect on state-wide cannabis legalization.

With that said, advocates like MPP Maine Political Director David Boyer believe the decision could have national implications. He believes that a win would help continue the momentum from victories in Washington and Colorado a year ago. “This is just the next domino,” Boyer explained.


Thank you for subscribing!
There was a problem subscribing, please try again later.

Sign-up to receive the latest medical cannabis research, news, and special offers straight to your inbox.

By subscribing I agree to the Privacy Policy