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9 States Could Drastically Change American Marijuana

By Kevin Klenkel

The American appetite for marijuana is at an all-time high.

Earlier this month Pew Research Center released a study that found 57 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing cannabis.  This is a sharp rise from 2006 were only 32 percent were in favor. 

Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and the District of Columbia currently have legal recreational marijuana.  Twenty-five more states allow use of the Schedule I drug for medical use.  November 9 could be the first time nine more states have the ability to wake and bake.

California, Maine, Massachusetts and Arizona have ballot initiatives that would legalize recreational marijuana.  If these initiatives pass, the market for cannabis would more than triple overnight.

Colorado made more than $70 million in tax revenue on cannabis its first year of recreational use.  California, with a population more than seven times that of Colorado, hoping to follow Colorado’s example, could bring in hundreds of millions in revenue.

While the passing of these initiatives in some states seems like a sure thing, others are facing some challenges.  The Arkansas Supreme Court disqualified Issue 7, less than two weeks before Election Day.  The state still has a chance with the more modest Issue 6.

Here is a quick rundown of how the new laws will affect each state if passed:

Recreational

Arizona/Proposition 205

  • 15 percent tax on sale of cannabis.
  • Establishment of a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control with a director appointed by the governor.
  • Fines for public smoking, underage use, unauthorized production, and possessions over legal limits.
  • Counties, cities, and towns regulate marijuana businesses.

California/Proposition 64

  • 15 percent tax on sale of cannabis, paired with cultivation tax.
  • The Bureau of Marijuana Control would replace the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation.
  • Persons under age 18 convicted of of possession or use would be required to attend drug education counseling and community service.
  • Sale without a license would be punishable by up to six months in county jail, a fine up to $500, or both
  • Counties and municipalities regulate marijuana businesses.

Maine/Question 1

  • 10 percent tax on sales in stores and social clubs.
  • Regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
  • Municipalities regulate marijuana businesses.
  • Smoking in public is limited to where tobacco can be used, violations could levy a $100 fine.

Massachusetts/Question 4

  • 75 percent excise tax, with an option for towns to impose a separate 2% tax.
  • Establishment of a Cannabis Control Commission appointed by state treasurer.
  • Establishment of a Cannabis Advisory Board appointed by the governor.
  • Cities and towns regulate marijuana businesses.
  • Supplying marijuana to persons under the age of 21 would be unlawful.

Nevada/Question 2

  • 15 percent tax on sale of cannabis.
  • Regulated by the Nevada Department of Taxation for the first 18 months of licensing.
  • Only wholesale liquor dealers would be permitted to apply for cannabis for distributor licenses.
  • No cultivation within 25 miles of a retail marijuana store, no cultivation that is publicly visible, no cultivation on property not in the cultivator's lawful possession.

Medical

Arkansas/Issue 6

  • State and local taxes apply.
  • Regulated by the Department of Health for processing application for registry ID cards, Alcoholic Beverage Control Division for operations of dispensaries and cultivation, and establish a Medical Marijuana Commission for licensing of dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

Florida/Amendment 2

  • Sales tax will likely apply to most purchases.
  • Regulated by the Department of Health, to regulate and register centers that produce and distribute marijuana and issue ID cards.

Montana/ I-182

  • Repeals current medical marijuana laws which limit physicians to three patients for medical marijuana.
  • Physicians would be able to certify use for more patients and would have the ability hire employees to cultivate, dispense, and transport medical marijuana.

North Dakota/Initiated Statutory Measure 5

  • Limited to a handful of conditions.
  • Regulated by the Department of Health for monitoring, inventorying, dispensing, cultivation and growing. ID cards mandatory for patients.