Guide to 2016 Marijuana Reform Across the Country

Marijuana reform continues to be a hot topic across the U.S. and this election year, at least 9 states will be taking a vote. The pros and cons list for each state varies given proposition restrictions, severity of regulations, and societal factors such as religious views and drug related crime rates. Despite the Federal war on drugs, currently 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form and the following states are looking to make the move or further increase their current legalization policies.

Arizona – Recreational:

On August 31, 2016, the Arizona Supreme Court officially declared Proposition 205 will be on the November ballot. If passed, this measure is aimed at regulating recreational marijuana use in the same fashion as alcohol in the state of Arizona. Regulations include:

  • Adults (21 years of age and older) can carry up to one ounce
  • Adults can grow up to six plants, no more than 12 plants can be grown in one residence
  • Marijuana can be consumed by adults in non-public spaces
  • A limited number (10% of the number of liquor licenses) of licensed marijuana retail stores will be allowed to sell to adults. Currently that number is less than 180.
  • A 15% excise tax will be enacted on all retail marijuana sales

Arkansas – Medical:

Two different medical marijuana initiatives are set for the November 2016 ballot in Arkansas. The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act would allow for a maximum of one nonprofit “cannabis care center” for every 20 pharmacies in the state. This should equate to approximately 38 dispensaries. Patients would need a doctor’s recommendation and a license to use medical marijuana from the Department of Health. If someone in need lives further than 20 miles from a cannabis care center, then they would be allowed to grow up to 10 plants with a “hardship cultivation” certificate. If this measure is passed, it will allow doctors to recommend cannabis for a number of medical conditions including:

  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Autism
  • Parkinson’s
  • PTSD

The second measure, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, does not allow any form of home growing, but would allow for up to 40 for-profit dispensaries.

Medical marijuana legalization came close to fruition in 2012 in Arkansas, but failed by 51% to 49%. 2016 may be the year and voters can choose to vote on both measures or just one.

California – Recreational:

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, since then it’s been falling further and further behind when it comes to marijuana reform. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana so far and California could be next.

Proposition 64 is aimed at making the Golden State the next to legalize recreational use of marijuana, and could bring in an estimated $1 billion in tax revenue. If passed, the measure would:

  • Legalize recreational use for people 21 years of age and older
  • 15% tax on all retail sales and $9.25 per ounce of flower and $2.75 per ounce of trim for cultivation taxes
  • Adults could possess up to ounce ounce of cannabis products
  • Adults could grow up to six plants for personal use
  • Restrict any form of marketing to minors
  • Allow for re-sentencing and expungements for previous marijuana convictions

Proposition 64 remains controversial for a number of reasons and many current medical marijuana growers and dispensaries are against it. Some believe it is giving the government too much control and creating an issue of overregulation. When asked his opinion on how the legalization of recreational marijuana could impact crime rates, local San Diego criminal lawyer, George Ramos stated, “while it is naive to assume that legalization and government regulation of recreational marijuana will bring an immediate end to the illegal drug trade, such measures will have the effect of substantially cutting into its revenue stream.”

Florida – Medical:

The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 became effective on Jan. 1, 2014 and allowed for access to low THC marijuana in a non-smoked form for qualified patients. The new Amendment 2 for 2016 would mean:

  • The Department of Health will regulate and register dispensaries and ID cards for patients
  • Patients with medical conditions such as PTSD, HIV/AIDS, cancer, MS, epilepsy, glaucoma, ALS, Parkinson’s, and Crohn’s disease may be able to get approval for medical marijuana from a licensed physician
  • Minors may be eligible with parental consent

Maine – Recreational:

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol originally failed to gather enough signatures, but in April 2016 after a court-ordered petition review, a referendum proposal was able to qualify for the November ballot. If passed, this measure would:

  • Legalize recreational marijuana for people 21 and over
  • Allow adults to grow up to six plants
  • Enact a 10% tax on retail marijuana and related products

A poll taken in April 2016, shows that 54% of possible voters would approve this measure meaning Maine may be on the road to recreational marijuana legalization.

Massachusetts – Recreational:

Medical marijuana was legalized in 2012 in Massachusetts and although it faced a number of legal issues before being approved, recreational use of marijuana is set to be on the ballot this November. The initiative would allow:

  • Adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana
  • Adults to keep up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home
  • Adults can grow up to six plants
  • An excise tax of 3.75% will be added to the 6.25% sales tax

According to The Cannabist, a July poll showed the measure is currently set to fail with 51% opposed, 41% in support, and 9% undecided.

Montana – Medical:

Medical marijuana was legalized in the state of Montana in 2004, but early this year, the Montana Supreme Court upheld the 2011 state laws that drastically limit access. Initiative 182 is now aimed at expanding access to legal medical marijuana throughout the state and would repeal the current initiative which limits providers to only three patients each.

Nevada – Recreational:

Some may be surprised that Nevada has yet to legalize recreational marijuana use, but the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is set to be on the ballot this November. While Nevada has a thriving medical marijuana program, eyes are on recreational use this year. If passed, Proposition 205 allows:

  • 21 and over adults to possess one ounce of marijuana
  • Adults to use marijuana privately
  • Adults to grow up to 6 plants on their residence with some restrictions
  • Establish Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control
    • This includes law enforcement
  • A limited number of licensed marijuana retail stores
  • Enacts a 15% excise tax on retail marijuana sales

North Dakota – Medical:

If passed, the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act is aimed to help patients with serious medical conditions such as:

  • AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma

The measure is set to allow adults with these qualifying conditions to possess up to 3 ounces of medical grade marijuana and grow up to eight plants if they are further than 40 miles from a licensed dispensary.


  • Featured Image By Aleks (Own work), CC-BY-SA-3.0  via Wikimedia Commons

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