In the U.S., cannabis has quickly transformed from a taboo topic to one of the most wildly supported political issues. The issue has recently gained rare bi-partisan support, as legislators draft new laws that expunge past cannabis convictions and expand current medicinal and adult-use programs.
There is little doubt that the cannabis-bandwagon is getting fuller, but there remains plenty of room to be seated. Eighteen states still enforce strict anti-legalization policies, offering no medicinal or adult-use cannabis programs – advocates will look for that number to decrease this upcoming November when a handful of states are set to vote on pro-cannabis legislation.
Battle in Utah: pro-cannabis campaign fighting off significant opposition
On November 6th, Proposition 2 will ask Utahans to vote “yes” or “no” on legalizing medicinal cannabis.
Early polling suggests significant support for the bill that would introduce cannabis to the state of Utah for the first time since… well, legally speaking – ever. In the latest survey, 64 % of voters reported to be “somewhat” or “strongly” in support of legalizing doctor-recommended marijuana.
If Proposition 2 passes, it won’t be due to a lack of opposition – currently, Drug Safe Utah is pouring significant funding into an anti-Proposition 2 campaign, backed by D.A.R.E. and Utah’s Medical Association. Recent individual donations have surpassed $200,000, helping fund a statewide anti-cannabis radio advertisement that received significant backlash thanks to its outdated propaganda-like themes – that included warnings of a wild-west-like market that would pave the way for illegal recreational sales.
“We think that’s not only fictitious but an outright lie that it has anything to do with recreational,” Schanz said. “The dosages are regulated, the dispensaries are regulated, even the medical conditions are regulated,” said DJ Schanz in response to the advertisement – Schanz is the current standing Director of the Utah Patients Coalition, an organization who heavily supports Proposition 2.
Expect only more money to pour into local advertising channels as advocates and anti-legalization proponents gear up for the upcoming vote that is just 1 month away – if the polling figures stay true, Proposition 2 will serve as a wakeup call to the entire country as the state of Utah has been long-regarded as one of the most severe anti-drug states within the U.S.
3 bills in Missouri – at least one will pass, right?
Residents in Missouri will vote on three different cannabis-themed ballot measures on November 6th.
Amendment 2 will look to legalize cannabis for medical use by allowing doctors to prescribe it to patients who meet qualifying conditions. Amendment 3 is similar, the only difference being specific writing regarding tax policies; instead of taxing products at 4% like Amendment 2 proposes, it would instead include a 15% tax – which would be allocated to the Biomedical Research and Drug Institute, who would be tasked with “finding cures for diseases and generate income for the state from cures developed.”
The third and final measure, Proposition 3, is a state statute that would require the courts involvement if it passes alongside Amendment 2 or 3. Essentially, Proposition 3 sets out the lowest tax %, coming in at 2%. All profits made from taxes would be used for “veterans services, drug treatment, education, and law enforcement.” If Proposition 3 passes, and the court agrees with a 2% tax, Missouri would feature the cheapest tax on cannabis products across the U.S.
Beyond Midterms: what the future holds
Polling, and recent advocacy only means so much – at the end of the day, results are what matters most. If Utah, or Missouri, can pass their pro-cannabis measures it will only add positive momentum to the cannabis community as the two states were once regarded as too conservative for pro-cannabis reform.
It’s not just Utah, and Missouri changing their minds. Other states where progress has been slow, like Iowa, are beginning to adapt to the change of attitudes; the Hawkeye State is set to unleash a strict medical cannabis program by the end of the year; MedPharm Iowa has already begun production in Des Moines, the states capitol.