Democratic Senate Leaders Announce Steps To Federally Legalize Marijuana In 2021

Democratic Senate Leaders Announce Steps To Federally Legalize Marijuana In 2021

Three leading champions of marijuana reform in Congress said on Monday that the issue will be prioritized in the new Democratic Senate this year and that they plan to release draft legislation in the coming weeks to begin a conversation about what the federal policy change will look like.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said in a joint statement that ending cannabis prohibition “is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country,” but that alone “is not enough.”

The lawmakers, each of whom has advocated for federal legalization, said that “we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs,” especially as more states opt to legalize.

“We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies,” they said. “The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority.”

This is a narrative that’s been building in recent months, with Schumer saying on several occasions both before and after the election that he would work to move reform legislationwith his new power to control the Senate floor agenda. Since Democrats secured a majority in the chamber, the stage is set for action.

“In the early part of this year, we will release a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations,” the senators said. “Getting input from stakeholder groups will be an important part of developing this critical legislation.”

bill to federally deschedule cannabis cleared the House last year, but it did not advance in the GOP-controlled Senate. Lawmakers like Schumer and Booker stressed that Democrats reclaiming a majority in the chamber was an imperative for any comprehensive reform to pass this year.

“After years of marijuana policy reform being neglected and mocked by [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)] it is heartening to see these Senate leaders working together to repeal the senseless and cruel policy of marijuana prohibition,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said.

“We look forward to constructively engaging with Congressional leaders, other organizations, and those communities that have historically been most impacted by criminalization in order to ensure that we craft the strongest and most comprehensive bill possible to right the wrongs of the nearly a century of federal cannabis prohibition,” he said.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who has spent decades working to end marijuana prohibition and is a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in a press release that he’s encouraged that Senate’s new majority is “prepared to move forward together on comprehensive cannabis legislation.”

He added that the House-passed Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to legalize marijuana “is a great foundation” for reform in the 117th Congress. The new legislation would likely be referred to Wyden’s panel, the Senate Finance Committee, for consideration once introduced.

“We look forward to working with the Senate to refine the bill, advance its core principles, and end the federal prohibition of cannabis once and for all,” Blumenauer said. “The missing ingredient in cannabis reform has been Senate action. To finally have the active leadership of the new Senate majority leader, rather than being stuck in McConnell’s legislative graveyard, makes all the difference in the world.”

Recent comments from the Schumer, the majority leader, indicate that whatever bill is filed will likely include components of multiple pieces of legislation from the last Congress, which he said are actively being merged.

With Democrats in control, advocates and lawmakers are preparing for a deluge in marijuana reform proposals that could see floor action and make their way to President Joe Biden’s desk.

Although the president does not support full legalization and only backs relatively modest cannabis reforms, advocates are hopeful that he would not veto or seek to undermine any broad marijuana legislation that congressional leaders decide to prioritize.

Already in 2021, two congressional marijuana bills have been filed: one to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act and another to prevent the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from denying veterans benefits solely because they use medical marijuana in compliance with state law.

Read the full joint statement on Senate marijuana reform priorities below: 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., issued the following joint statement regarding comprehensive cannabis reform legislation in the 117th Congress:

“The War on Drugs has been a war on people—particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country. But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs.

“We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies. The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority.

“In the early part of this year, we will release a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations. Getting input from stakeholder groups will be an important part of developing this critical legislation.”

This story originally appeared at Marijuana Moment.

Can’t Smoke This…How much THC in Hemp Fiber?…

Can’t Smoke This…How much THC in Hemp Fiber?…

Editor’s Note – After reading these incredibly stringent new laws and guidelines for the HEMP CBD industry, (below) when the Hemp CBD Industry already seems highly competitive and overpopulated. It begs the question, since we can’t smoke this…how much THC is in Hemp FIber that matters to anyone?  

Example: Why would one need to test for THC in Hemp Fiber, if one were producing Hemp for paper or plastic or housing, shoe, cloths, or a thousand other industrial uses?

QUESTION: How do these New Hemp Regulations apply to Hemp FIber… Why are our farmers NOT focusing on the hemp industrial industry creating the powerful flow of the real gold in this almighty Hemp plant?

Why play by these rules in an overindudated market when the real industry is Hemp Industrial?

So many questions regarding the crazy directions the hemp industry is taking… Does anyone have real answers? Darlene Mea – CEO/Founder HempingtonPost

Notable Provisions From the USDA Final Rule for the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program

By Michelle Bodian

Jan 19, 2021

Last week, the USDA announced the first federal final agency regulation governing hemp production. The final rule is now available for viewing in the Federal Register and will become effective on March 22, 2021.

The industry may be disappointed with some problematic provisions that remained from the Interim Final Rule (IFR); however, with any new industry emerging from decades-long prohibition, change happens slowly. The final rule does contain many improvements from the IFR.

While it will take time to digest the content and fully appreciate the implications, we want to highlight a few notable provisions.

Notable Provisions from the USDA Final Rule 

DEA Registration for Testing Laboratories Required for All Labs Testing Hemp (Even Unofficial Samples Throughout the Growing Season)

  • This requirement remains in the final rule
  • Given the limited number of DEA-registered labs currently, enforcement of this requirement will continue to be delayed until December 31, 2022
  • AMS acknowledged it received comments in opposition to this requirement, but it retains the requirement that any lab testing hemp for regulatory compliance purposes must be registered with the DEA to conduct chemical analysis of controlled substances per 21 CFR 1301.13
  • DEA registration also applies to any lab testing hemp throughout the growing season to informally monitor THC concentration
  • AMS justifies this requirement by saying: “Registration is necessary because laboratories could potentially handle cannabis that tests above 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis, which is, by definition, marijuana and a Schedule 1 controlled substance

Laboratory Accreditation Not Required 

  • AMS will not provide an AMS administered lab approval program or require ISO 17025 accreditation

Testing for Total THC Required

  • AMS will retain the requirement test for “total” THC instead of only “delta-9” THC

Harvest Window Expanded

  • AMS is expanding the post-sampling hemp harvest window from 15 days to 30 days

Performance-based Sampling Permitted

  • USDA will allow States and Indian Tribes to consider performance-based alternatives when developing sampling plans

Where to Take Samples from the Plant

  • AMS retains the requirement that pre-harvest samples be taken from the flower material of hemp plants
  • The final rule clarifies the number of inches of plant material needed for the sample and provides greater detail as to where exactly on the plant to make a cutting

Designated Sampling Agents

  • AMS is retaining the requirement that only designated agents can collect samples
  • A Federal, State, Local, or Tribal law enforcement agency or other Federal, State, or Tribal designated person may collect hemp samples to test THC levels in hemp

Disposal of Non-compliant Plants Still Required, but With More Flexible Options 

  • The disposal requirements remain the same, but “disposal” is clarified and remediation is an option to remove non-compliant plants
  • Some of these new options for disposal include, but are not limited to, plowing under, composting into “green manure” for use on the same land, tilling, disking, burial, or burning
  • Remediation can occur by removing and destroying flower material while retaining stalk, stems, leaf material, and seeds, or by shredding the entire plant into a biomass-like material, then re-testing the shredded biomass material for compliance

Negligence Standard Increased to 1%

  • The negligence threshold increased from 0.5 to 1.0 percent THC
  • The rule clarifies how States and Indian Tribes determine when to suspend or revoke a producer’s license
  • Find more information on this article at

Are crazy rules and guidelines for hemp fiber – do they even apply?

Americans Across Party Lines, Regions Embrace Marijuana

Americans Across Party Lines, Regions Embrace Marijuana

Bill Stocker could be considered the archetype of a conservative voter: He’s a retired Marine and former police officer who voted for President Donald Trump. But he’s also among the majority of South Dakota voters who broadly legalized marijuana this month. 

Stocker, 61, said enforcing marijuana laws gets in the way of pursuing other drug crimes and called warnings about the ills of marijuana “a bunch of baloney” that even people in a Republican stronghold like South Dakota no longer believe.

South Dakota’s values of “personal responsibility and freedom” won out, said Stocker, who lives in Sioux Falls.

The 2020 election helped prove how broadly accepted marijuana has become throughout the United States, with measures to legalize recreational pot also breezing to victory in progressive New Jersey, moderate Arizona and conservative Montana. Fifteen states have now broadly legalized it, while 36 states allow medical marijuana. 

Voters in Mississippi overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana this month, giving the drug another foothold in the South. 

A Gallup Poll released Nov. 9 indicated that 68% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana — double the approval rate in 2003. That wide margin was evident in the election, with marijuana measures passing with strong bipartisan support.

In South Dakota and Montana — where Republicans swept to victory in the key races — recreational marijuana passed with at least 16 percentage points more support than Democratic President-elect Joe Biden received. South Dakota also approved medical pot, which outpolled Biden by 34 percentage points.

“We’ve waged a war against this plant for a century and by any reasonable metric, that war has been an abject failure,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which favors legalization. “All it’s done is incarcerate millions of Americans, it has perpetuated racism in this country, and perhaps the worst injustice of all is that it’s deprived us of medical marijuana research.”

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, hurting veterans who can’t be prescribed medical pot at Veterans Affairs clinics, he said.

They “come home with chronic pain and we’re pushing them to opioids,” Schweich said. “That’s crazy. That’s unpatriotic and it’s a disgrace.”

Support for legalization was around 25% in 1992 when then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton tried to avoid answering questions about whether he had used marijuana before finally saying in a television interview that he had experimented with the drug, didn’t like it and “didn’t inhale.”

In early 2019, Kamala Harris — now the vice president-elect — was asked about her prior marijuana use during a radio interview and acknowledged: “I did inhale.”

Brendan Johnson, a former U.S. attorney in South Dakota who supported the state’s marijuana initiatives, said the campaign focused on the fact that in recent years 10% of arrests in the state were for marijuana, and most were small amounts.

“We have a real problem here where we have criminalized an entire generation of South Dakotans, and we’re paying a price,” Johnson said.

The owner of a chain of medical marijuana dispensaries in Billings, Montana, credited passage of the recreational marijuana initiative to a yearslong campaign by medical marijuana supporters to educate the public about the benefits of cannabis.

“There has been a considerable change in the political demographic because people are educated, because they know Aunt Margaret tried it for her cancer and she can eat,” said Richard Abromeit, owner of Montana Advanced Caregivers.

Advocates’ next goal is to get marijuana removed from a federal list of illegal drugs with no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. The listing prevents labs from researching potential medical remedies using marijuana.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told lawmakers last week that he would hold a vote in December on a bill that would decriminalize cannabis, create a process to expunge nonviolent pot convictions and remove the drug from the Controlled Substances Act. It’s not clear if the bill could pass both chambers. 

The outcome of two runoff elections in Georgia could determine how the issue might fare in the Senate, where Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has impeded its progress.

Other states are expected to consider marijuana legislation next year, which could put more pressure on Congress to act.

Supporters argue that the industry creates jobs and raises tax money to help prop up governments that are hurting because of business closures tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But some oppose broad legalization.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota argued that marijuana leads people to use other, more-addictive drugs, while law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Montana asserted that legal pot would lead to more drugged driving and other crimes, while exacerbating mental health issues.

The Gallup Poll says just under half of Republicans, people who identify as politically conservative and those who attend church on a weekly basis say they think marijuana should be legal.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon church, strongly opposed Arizona’s broad legalization measure despite supporting medical marijuana in Utah. 

Chris Nylen, 50, of Flagstaff, Arizona, is a Trump supporter who voted to legalize recreational marijuana. She said her feelings evolved after a CBD pill, made from hemp and prescribed by a veterinarian, eased her dog’s anxiety and arthritis. 

“I’m so old school,” she said. “I personally don’t have a desire for it, but (I’m) seeing the benefits for my dog.”

This story first appeared at Associated Press.

Associated Press reporters Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana; Steven Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona; and video journalist Haven Daley in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Israel to Legalize, Regulate Recreational Cannabis Market Within 9 Months

Israel to Legalize, Regulate Recreational Cannabis Market Within 9 Months

After receiving government approval, the bills will be rewritten into a new law under the supervision of Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh.

After four months in which the inter-ministerial committee for the regulation of Israel’s cannabis market had been convening every week, it published its conclusions on Thursday and handed them over to the Justice Ministry.Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said that a legal memo will be drafted in the coming days for government approval, and that a bill could come to the Knesset floor for an initial reading even before the end of 2020, with the entire legislative process expected to take around nine months.

After receiving government approval, the bills will be rewritten into a new law under the supervision of Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh, chairwoman of the Knesset’s Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Use.”I see great importance that these two bills [for decriminalization and legalization] be put forth as a single bill, which will be a responsible, holistic step for Israel without compromise. I am committed to leading, advancing and supervising the application of these recommendations for reform, while doing the preparations required in the memo on time,” Cotler-Wunsh said.In a special discussion on Thursday, Deputy Attorney-General Amit Merari presented the main conclusions of the extensive and in-depth staff work done by the committee and the experts who appeared before it on the subject of regulating cannabis.The recommendations were formulated after an in-depth study of the successes and failures in the implementation of cannabis legalization and decriminalization policies in the countries where the field was regulated.

FIRSTLY, anyone who was expecting to be able to smoke a legal joint will have to wait until some time near the final quarter of 2021, since there are still certain areas of both research and legislation which the various government offices need to prepare.

The committee said there is an essential need for detailed and thorough legislation concerning all possible aspects of the regulation, a lesson from the Colorado model, which had much less data to go on when the Rocky Mountain state chose to legalize cannabis in 2012.A significant and early budget will be dedicated for data tracking, enforcement, mental health treatment and addiction rehabilitation, in order to prepare the public for the move.A major emphasis in the policy will be put on preventing teen cannabis use and addiction, similar to the Canadian model.Establishment of a forfeiture fund from the tax profits on cannabis will be dedicated to social and community action.The new law is expected to go to a first reading in the Knesset within the next month, and clear the entire legislative process within nine months, according to Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn. In that time, the different offices will cooperate to regulate the market, each in their own department.After the process is complete, Israelis and tourists will be able to buy cannabis at special dispensaries, provided they are above the age of 21 and present a valid form of identification.

MERARI PRESENTED the reasons for the committee’s recommendations, saying the drug is very common in public use, there is no justification for its prohibition, and that its legal consequences currently outweigh its medical consequences.A majority of the committee members agreed that the advantages of cannabis legalization outweigh the disadvantages.The nine months will be used to answer some of the legislation’s many questions, and to prepare a network of data, so that the Health Ministry will be able to research and monitor the market in real time before it legally opens.The amount which will be allowed for possession of cannabis has still not been decided.Home growing will initially be illegal, but will be reconsidered once the market has been established.In the field of transportation, an emphasis will be placed on education regarding the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis, particularly when mixed with alcohol.However, many questions remain regarding the accuracy of THC breathalyzer tests used today, leading to this area to be possibly the largest loophole in need of fixing before legislation can pass.

PROF. ITAMAR GROTTO said after the announcement that there are three reasons they are satisfied with the recommendations. The first is the harm-reduction approach taken by the recommendations, which aim to work incrementally towards reducing the overall harm which comes from both cannabis criminalization and addiction.Secondly, the field of medical research into the long-term societal and health effects of cannabis would be greatly aided by legalization, Grotto said.Lastly, there is a need for better prevention and treatment methods, seeing as criminalization has not lowered the amount of users, despite being Israeli law since the country’s founding in 1948.Grotto also mentioned the need to separate the medical and recreational cannabis markets, saying they are still at the start of the journey on that aspect.

MK RAM SHEFA, who proposed the legalization bill which passed in a preliminary hearing in June, addressed the meeting via Zoom while in isolation, thanking the team for their hard work.”We can’t close our eyes to what is happening. Israel is a relative leader in cannabis consumption, and the market needs to be regulated,” Shefa said. “I say that also as the chairman of the Knesset’s Education Committee. I think we have a responsibility to address the problems of addiction, and the best way to deal with them is when your eyes are open.”I know we still have a few roadblocks ahead of us, and that the legislation will take many months, which will force us to find all kinds of solutions and compromises. But I am certain that with the wide consensus around this table, we can do it in a safe, responsible manner, that I think will succeed in freeing a lot of people of the stigma of feeling like criminals, for something that can and should be regulated,” he said.Shefa noted an urgency in the need to pass the legislation, most likely due to the looming specter of a possible dissolution of the Knesset for an election, which could complicate the chance for legalization if the bill has not yet passed in a first reading.”I’m here to push with full force, whether in isolation or not, for this legislation to be completed. We won’t let any party or MK – or anyone – stop us from leading a move that would help a lot of people in a responsible manner,” Shefa said.

LIKUD MK Sharren Haskel, who wrote the decriminalization bill, thanked Nissenkorn and the committee for their work, while also criticizing fellow Likud member and current UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan for his previous attempts at decriminalizing cannabis.”The recommendations which came out today are righting an injustice that was done during the previous cannabis committee led by [former public security minister Gilad] Erdan, where there was a majority for these recommendations to go through, but they were disregarded, and a completely different set of regulations passed,”

Haskel said.”These recommendations confirm what I and many in the public have already known for years: that the current policy has failed and we must change and repair it,” she added.Haskel seemed to echo Shefa’s urgency in the need to pass the bill during a time of election uncertainty, saying: “I promise the citizens of Israel that I will make a tremendous effort to cooperate and finish this legislation before the Knesset dissolves” – before being interrupted, and changing her remarks to reflect a vague optimism that the bill will likely pass.”We expect that within the final quarter of 2021, we will have completed the outline for the regulations,” Nissenkorn said. “The legislative outline can be approved very soon. Afterwards, there is the process of applying performance regulations, which we expect will be done by the last quarter of next year. We still need to discuss the intermediary period.” 

GROTTO SAID that there is no plan for changes in the reform to the medical cannabis market, though he added they will need to think of ways to differentiate between the amount of regulations placed on cannabis for recreational use and cannabis for medicinal use.However, Grotto added, the fact that Israel has already established regulations for the medicinal market, provides an infrastructure through which recreational cannabis can more easily be regulated.”We intend to release a legal memo to the public and hand it to the government for approval within the coming days. At the beginning of next month it can be sent to the Knesset along with the bills from MKs Shefa and Haskel to continue for a first reading in the Knesset plenum. Our goal is that within nine months, the first offices will have completed the important infrastructural work needed to combat addiction, to regulate the market and other processes.” When asked about issues which arose from Erdan’s 2018 cannabis reform (disproportionately high fines, criminalization still optional for possession, black market unaffected), Nissenkorn said a discussion would be had on the topic due to its complexity. However, Merari said no changes to the reform are planned to take place until new legislation passes.

MERETZ MK Tamar Zandberg, a long-time advocate and pioneer for cannabis legalization in Israel, congratulated Nissenkorn for “finally joining the 21st century and the list of ministers who promise legalization.”The direction is clear: Smoking cannabis in one’s spare time should not be a criminal offense – and soon will not be,” she said. “The legalization train has already left the station; it will soon become a reality. Congratulations to those who are struggling and joining.” Blue and White leader and alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said: “As I promised all along – today we bring an outline for responsible legalization that is adapted to the needs of the State of Israel.”He congratulated Nissenkorn, Shefa and Haskel for their achievements, adding that “We will lead the completion of the legislative process in the Knesset, and I look forward to the cooperation and substantive discussion of all parties in the political system. Too many civilians have suffered too long – it’s time to make amends.”

This story first appeared at The Jerusalem Post.

House Will Vote on Cannabis Legalization Bill in December

House Will Vote on Cannabis Legalization Bill in December

bill to remove federal penalties on marijuana and scrap some cannabis-related records will receive a vote on the House floor in December, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. In a letter to colleagues Monday, Hoyer outlined the legislative schedule for the lame-duck session in November and December.

“The House will vote on the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis and expunge convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses that have prevented many Americans from getting jobs, applying for credit and loans, and accessing opportunities that make it possible to get ahead in our economy,” the letter read.Hoyer’s letter did not specify which week the vote will come up, but the House is scheduled to be in session Dec. 1-4 and Dec. 7-10.

What’s the background? The House was scheduled to vote on the bill in September, but someDemocrats in tight races worried that voters would not look kindly on a marijuana legalization votewhen a deal on coronavirus aid remained elusive. At the time, Hoyer promised the bill would still come up for a vote after the election.

Momentum is growing on marijuana policy. More than a third of Americans now live in states with full legalization, and a record 68 percent support federal cannabis legalization, according to Gallup. This past Election Day, five states passed medical or recreational legalization referendums — including staunchly conservative states such as Montana and South Dakota — bringing the total number of legal states up to 15.

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that it‘s “past time to end the federal prohibition on marijuana.“

“With the success of all the cannabis ballot measures across the country last week, it’s more important than ever for Congress to catch up,” said Cannabis Caucus Co-chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), after Hoyer’s office announced the vote. “We’re going to continue building momentum so that Congress takes action to end the failed prohibition of cannabis before the year is out. Too much is at stake for communities of color.”

This story first appeared at

These States Are Voting on Cannabis Legalization This November

These States Are Voting on Cannabis Legalization This November

In 2016, the US election resulted in a green wave as cannabis legalization measures passed in eight out of nine states.Now, the industry and its supporters are hoping for another big win in November.

This year, voters in five states will decide whether to adopt either new medical or recreational cannabis laws — or, perhaps, both in the case of one state. As it stands now, 33 states have legalized medical cannabis, and of those, 11 states have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use.

If more states join that list, it could serve as a huge opportunity for industry growth as legalization supporters believe successful ballot initiatives could have a domino effect on other states — especially those looking to address budgetary and social justice issues. “We’ve seen public support continue to grow every year,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, the legalization advocacy group backing several of the measures.

Cannabis sales in states that have legalized the plant for medical and recreational purposes totaled about $15 billion in 2019, and are expected to top $30 billion by 2024, according to data from BDS Analytics, which tracks dispensary sales. Below is a look at the five states voting on legal cannabis this November.


Four years ago, residents in the Grand Canyon State narrowly defeated an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis. It failed by fewer than 67,100 votes, with 51.3% of voters saying no.The 2016 measure was hotly contested, attracting a combined $13 million from high-profile donors such as soap company Dr. Bronner’s, which was in favor of the measure, and opponents such as billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, tire retailer Discount Tire, and pharmaceutical company Insys. This time around, the backers of the recreational cannabis initiative include some of the biggest names in the US cannabis business — an industry that has matured significantly during the past four years. State election finance records show that contributors supporting Proposition 207 include multi-state cannabis producers and retailers such as the Tempe, Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation (HRVSF) and firms such as Curaleaf (CURLF) and Cresco Labs (CRLBF), which have cultivation and retail operations in Arizona’s medical cannabis industry.Still in staunch opposition are Governor Doug Ducey, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national organization that opposes the legalization and commercialization of cannabis.

For the most part, Proposition 207 is structured similarly to 2016’s measure. It would allow adults 21 years and older to possess, consume or transfer up to 1 ounce of cannabis and create a regulatory system for the products’ cultivation and sale. Some key differences with the new measure include the addition of social equity provisions and criminal justice reforms such as record expungement.According to estimates from industry publication Marijuana Business Daily, recreational sales in Arizona could total $700 million to $760 million by 2024.

New Jersey

When Governor Phil Murphy was elected in 2017, he vowed to deliver on a campaign trail promise to legalize cannabis. At the time, he told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that legalization could be a $300 million boon to state coffers but that the biggest reasons for legalization would be for social justice purposes — overhauling old drug laws that disproportionately criminalized people of color.

However, legislative efforts to legalize failed to drum up enough support. Lawmakers ultimately decided to go another route and put the measure before voters.If approved, Public Question No. 1 would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older. The program will be regulated by the same commission that oversees New Jersey’s medical cannabis businesses, and the recreational cannabis products would be subject to the state sales tax (currently 6.625%).By initial estimates, New Jersey’s recreational cannabis market could be hefty. Marijuana Business Daily pegs annual sales between $850 million and $950 million by 2024 — but a successful initiative carries greater significance outside of New Jersey’s borders. The passage of recreational cannabis in New Jersey could accelerate legislative efforts in neighboring New York and Pennsylvania.

South Dakota

Usually states have legal medical cannabis programs in place before adopting recreational cannabis laws.South Dakota could enact medical and recreational programs in one fell swoop.Voters in South Dakota will decide on Measure 26, which would establish a medical cannabis program and registration system for people with qualifying conditions, as well as on Amendment A, which would legalize cannabis for all adults and require state legislators to adopt medical cannabis and hemp laws.The South Dakota Legislative Research Council projected that Amendment A could result in $29.3 million in tax revenue by the state’s 2024 fiscal year. Sales estimates were not yet available, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which is assisting with the South Dakota campaign.


Montana voters also will see two cannabis initiatives on their ballots.Ballot issue I-190 would allow adults in the state to possess, buy and use cannabis for recreational use. A separate initiative, CI-118, would establish 21 as the legal age to purchase, possess and consume cannabis.

If passed, I-190 would establish a 20% tax on recreational cannabis, with more than half of the tax collections landing in the state general fund and the rest allocated to programs such as enforcement, substance abuse treatment and veterans’ services. The measure also would allow people serving a sentence for certain cannabis-related acts to apply for resentencing or records expungement.According to a fiscal analysis, the state expects recreational cannabis sales to total nearly $193 million in 2025, generating $38.5 million in tax revenue.


In Mississippi, there are two competing measures to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.Initiative 65, which resulted from a citizen petition, would allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis for patients with any of 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. The constitutional amendment would establish a regulatory program for businesses to grow and sell medical cannabis and for the products to be taxed at a 7% rate.Under Mississippi law, the legislature has the option to amend or draft an alternate measure, and that’s what it did here via Initiative 65A. The competing measure requires medical products that are of pharmaceutical quality, limits the smoking of medical cannabis to people who are terminally ill, and leaves the future creation of rules and a regulatory framework up to the legislature.Officials from Marijuana Business Daily said that if Initiative 65 is passed, medical sales could total between $750 million to $800 million by 2024.

This story first appeared at CNN.