States well poised to introduce legalization by the end of this year

Published Oct 9, 2020 09:00 a.m. ET
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As we welcomed the year 2020, around twelve US states were poised to vote on either medical cannabis or adult-use cannabis. Then COVID-19 entered everyone's life, and things changed. COVID-19 and other challenges changed the numbers of states on the list of cannabis legalization ballot initiatives, as fear of the illness made it difficult for organizations to collect the thousands of signatures they needed to succeed.


Stacy Pearson is sure that the 420,000 signatures collected will qualify an adult-use cannabis legalization measure for the Arizona 2020 ballot, Smart and Safe. After a brief legal battle in August, it became official. The Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith rejected the claims that the 100-word summary on the initiative to place adult-use cannabis legalization measures on the 2020 ballot was misleading. This means that the issue can be presented before voters this coming November.

A lawsuit filed by Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy did file a lawsuit last month to keep the measure off of the state's ballot. They are claiming that the initiative's description misleads people into signing the petition through the definition of the marijuana plant. Stacy Pearson is confident that they will be on the ballot and end up a winner in November, proclaiming the plant as no longer illegal.

New Jersey

In the spring of 2019, we saw legislative effort to legalize adult-use cannabis stall in the New Jersey Senate. This move prompted lawmakers to put the question on legalization on the November ballot. New Jersey’s initiative would legalize adult-use cannabis in the state and authorize a regulated and taxed distribution system.

There are two main priorities, including ensuring that the measure is successful and then working with cannabis industry stakeholders in the implementation of social equity in the adult-use marketplace. An automatic expungement process for those that qualify will be advocated for by NJ CAN 2020 in the state's adult-use cannabis program. The language used in the state's adult-use cannabis law needs to include protections that will allow ex-offenders to participate in the legal cannabis industry.


Initiative 65 will be in front of Mississippi voters this November, and Mississippians for Compassionate Care is the group behind Medical Marijuana 2020. The state has also introduced a competing measure, Alternative 65A, to be om the November ballot. The  November voters would have to choose between the two options. They may also choose not to legalize medical cannabis in the state of Mississippi.


One hundred five thousand six hundred eighty-six certified signatures were gathered by Medical Marijuana 2020. The number of signatures collected was more than the 86,185 required to reach the ballot, which made it so that this region is incredibly well-poised to legalize cannabis within the next year.

South Dakota

The legalization of the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis by adults will put the state of South Dakota in the position to do something that, to date, no other state has accomplished, on the same ballot. The group New Approach South Dakota is behind this state's medicinal cannabis measure, and they have partnered with South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws and organization that introduced the adult-use constitutional amendment.

Both organizations have qualified for the November 3 election. The adult-use Constitutional amendment A is worded to guarantee the enactment of Measure 26, which is the medical cannabis ballot measure. Measure 26, along with other items, would put a cap on licensing fees for medicinal cannabis establishments at $5,000, a number that will be reviewed annually for inflation. Renewals will be based on family income.

They would also require the Department of Health from the state to issue rules within the 120 days of initializing the act's date.  Amendment 2 will give South Dakota's DoH until April 1, 2022, to enact the regulations and rules surrounding the region's cannabis industry licensing and oversight. Mark Schweich, MPP deputy director of DoH, thinks that voters are enthusiastic about both of the initiatives presented.

November 3, 2020 is fast approaching, and cannabis legalization is ready to be implemented in the United States. Perhaps the horrendous year that the world has endured due to COVID-19 can end on a positive note with the legalization of recreational and medicinal cannabis. The marijuana plant needs to be legalized in the United States, and the cannabis activist believes that miracles can happen, do you?

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