By Scott D. Cosenza, Esq.

A new Gallup poll released in late October shows support for making marijuana legal in the United States is now at the record high of 66%, up from 64% last year, while only 32% are opposed.  Will these numbers show through with a green wave on Election Day? Four states could pass major state-level marijuana policy reforms on Tuesday.

Michigan & North Dakota

In two states, voters will decide whether to make marijuana legal for adult use. In Michigan, the passage of Proposal 1 would change the current prohibition there to a system that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. In North Dakota, Measure 3’s passage would legalize marijuana for adults and expunge past marijuana-related convictions.

North Dakotans legalized medical marijuana two years ago, but it remains to be seen if the conservative state will go for non-prescription sales and possession., which bills itself as “the world’s largest cannabis information resource,” has reported wildly different poll numbers, showing no clear favorite.  “A poll conducted in mid-October by The Kitchens Group found that 51% of North Dakota voters were in support of Measure 3.”  However, it goes on to report “[a] separate poll, conducted by TV stations KFYR and KVLY in partnership with Strategic Research Associates, found just 26% support for Measure 3, with 65% of respondents opposed.”

In 2017 Michigan police arrested more than 20,000 people for weed.  That number could be zero going forward if Proposal 1 passes. Kathleen Gray from the Detroit Free Press says the measure was not very contentious until late in the game:

“Large infusions of cash on both sides of the issue ha[ve] made the final two weeks of the legal weed fight an honest to God brawl to the end.”

Show Me State Confusion and the LDS

In Missouri, three distinct medical marijuana measures go up for a vote: Amendment 2, Amendment 3, and Proposition C.  Click here for a breakdown of each provision.  Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), told Liberty Nation that Amendment 2 was the best of the bunch, but that passage of any of these will allow increased access to marijuana in Missouri. MPP seeks to “increase public support for non-punitive, non-coercive marijuana policies.”

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Because so many Utah voters are members, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ assessment of a ballot measure carries a lot of weight.  Proposition 2 will be decided by voters, but the measure’s backers reached an agreement last month to pass new legislation regardless of this vote.

Gov. Gary Herbert said he’ll call lawmakers into a special session after the midterm election to pass the compromise into law regardless of how the initiative fares. If it passes, it will be revised under the terms of the deal. If it fails, the Legislature would consider a law under the new framework.

Since the agreement includes approval from the church, it will likely pass with ease.

The Utah-based faith had opposed the ballot proposal over fears it could lead to more broad use, but ranking global leader Jack Gerard said they’re “thrilled” to be a part of the effort to “alleviate human pain and suffering.”

Not wanting to hold out for a more perfect if delayed measure, “[m]edical marijuana advocates are backing the deal to avoid wrangling and uncertainty that could continue if the ballot initiative passes.”

North America Going Green

U.S. federal law prohibits all marijuana possession.

Recent news shows the United States is the last major economy in North America not to decriminalize possession of marijuana.  Legalization of cannabis in Canada went into effect on October 17, 2018.  On Halloween, the Mexican Supreme Court released two rulings that said blanket prohibitions on personal possession of marijuana were not permitted, and “that adults have a fundamental right to personal development which lets them decide their recreational activities without interference from the state.”

U.S. federal law prohibits all marijuana possession. Pete Sessions (R-TX) in the House and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in the Senate have been extreme obstructionists here, blocking every attempt to find a workable solution to resolve differences in state and federal law.   The result is a limbo where progress is stifled, and people live under an unacceptably vague understanding of what behavior will be punished as criminal and what will not. Perhaps a new Congress with new members can look with fresh eyes to establish a solution to this problem that embraces freedom and the federalist principles that founded the Republic.

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