The 2022 Midterm Election revealed a mixed bag of results regarding the legalization of adult use (recreational) marijuana: voters in Maryland and Missouri approved adult-use legalization measures whereas voters in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota rejected similar legalization efforts.
The legalization of adult use measures in Maryland and Missouri brings the total number of states with legalized recreational marijuana programs to twenty-one.
Maryland voters overwhelmingly voted in support of Question 4, a referendum directing the Maryland State Legislature to establish rules and regulations governing the possession, use, and sale of marijuana to adults 21 years of age or older beginning in July 2023.
Missouri voters also turned out in support of Amendment 3, a ballot measure legalizing the possession, use, and sale of marijuana to adults 21 years of age or older. Amendment 3, among other things, imposes a 6% sales tax on recreational sales and allows individuals with certain marijuana-related offenses to petition for release from prison, parole, or probation and have their records expunged.
Voters in Arkansas rejected Issue 4, a citizen proposed ballot measure that would have legalized the possession, use, and sale of adult-use marijuana. Issue 4 would have required the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses. Arkansas voters previously voted in support of medical marijuana back in 2016.
North Dakota voters similarly voted against Measure 2, opting not to legalize adult-use marijuana within the state. If passed, Measure 2 would have legalized the production, processing, and sale of recreational marijuana as well as the possession, use, and cultivation of recreational marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older. North Dakota voters rejected a similar ballot measure in 2018 but previously voted in support of medical marijuana in 2016.
Voters in South Dakota also rejected adult use legalization efforts, voting against Measure 27 which would have legalized the possession, distribution, and use of recreational marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older. Notably, South Dakotans voted to legalize marijuana possession in 2020, but the law was later struck down by the South Dakota Supreme Court on the grounds that the measure (which discussed recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, and industrial hemp) violated the state’s requirement that constitutional amendments solely deal with one subject. South Dakotans previously voted in support of medical marijuana in 2020.
What does this mean?
Although Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota rejected adult-use ballot measures, medical marijuana is still permitted in these states.
Husch Blackwell welcomes Maryland and Missouri into the marijuana industry and looks forward to studying the implementation of these state programs, including the development of rules and regulations.
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