by Michelle Rutter, NCIA’s Government Relations Coordinator
In November, five states will vote on legalizing adult-use cannabis for individuals over 21 – Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada – while an additional four states will vote on medicinal cannabis reform – Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota. All nine initiatives differ slightly from one another and each has its own unique language.
Below are NCIA’s quick summaries of each of the initiatives. Read up, then visit the campaign sites for more information and how you can help make 2016 another success in the fight to end marijuana prohibition.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (Proposition 205) legalizes the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are over 21 and levies a 15% tax on the sale of cannabis, which would then be allocated to education and healthcare in the state. This would create an estimated $113 million in new tax revenue.
– Allows local governments to regulate and limit cannabis businesses
– If passed, Arizona’s cannabis market is projected to surpass $1 billion within three years
The Adult-Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) (Proposition 64) legalizes the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are over 21 and enacts a 15% sales tax, as well as a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves.
– Estimated $1.4 billion in revenues within the first year of a fully operational market
– Written to prevent licenses for corporate or large-scale cannabis businesses for five years, which is in order to deter “unreasonable restraints on competition by creation or maintenance of unlawful monopoly power”
California has the largest state cannabis market (medical or adult-use) in the country, estimated at $2.7 billion in 2016.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (Question 1) legalizes the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are over 21 and enacts a 10% sales tax in addition to the state’s 5.5% sales tax. The first $30 million in tax revenue from cannabis sales would be used for school construction, with any additional revenue allocated to the General Fund.
– Medical cannabis will not be subjected to the 10% sales tax
– Caps the number of cannabis stores and cultivators until 2019 and 2022, respectively
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (Question 4) legalizes the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are over 21 and creates a Cannabis Control Commission of three members appointed by the state Treasurer, which would generally administer the law governing cannabis use and distribution, promulgate regulations, and be responsible for the licensing of commercial cannabis establishments. It also creates a Cannabis Advisory Board of 15 members appointed by the Governor.
– Enacts an excise tax of 3.75%, in addition to the state sales tax
– A city or town could impose a separate tax of up to 2%
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (Question 2) legalizes the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are over 21 and designates the Nevada Department of Taxation to issue licenses to cannabis retailers, suppliers, testing facilities, and distributors.
– Gives local governments control over cannabis business locations, and forbids businesses to operate near schools, childcare facilities, houses of worship, and certain community facilities.
– Enacts a 15% excise tax on wholesale sales of cannabis, in addition to the existing sales tax which would apply to the retail sale of cannabis
– Revenue generated from these taxes would be used to support K-12 education
There are two competing initiatives on the 2016 ballot: the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA) and Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016 (AMMA), known as Issue 7 and Issue 6, respectively. The main differences lie in patient card fee limits, the organizations that would implement the program, the distribution of sales tax revenue, and whether certain patients could cultivate their own medicine.
As of October 2016, Issue 7, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA) was struck from the ballot. The initiative will still appear on the ballot, but the results will not be counted.
Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA):
– Sets a cap on the fees required to get dispensary and cultivation licenses and the fees required for patient cards
– Assigns the Arkansas Department of Health to set rules for patient cards, medical conditions that qualify a patient for medical marijuana use, and operating rules for dispensaries and cultivators
– Requires that all sales tax revenue goes back into the medical marijuana program
– Permits qualified cardholders to purchase medical cannabis from non-profit compassion centers
– Allows patients and their caregivers to cultivate up to 10 cannabis plants at home provided they take steps to ensure it is secure
Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (AMMA):
– Sets a cap on the fee required to acquire a dispensary or cultivation license, but no limit on the cost for patient card fees;
– Assigns the Arkansas Department of Health to set rules for patient cards and medical conditions that qualify a patient for medical marijuana use, and the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control to establish operating rules for dispensaries and cultivators;
– Divides sales tax revenue, assigning 10% to the medical marijuana program, 10% to the Skills Development Fund, 30% to the state’s General Fund, and 50% to the state’s Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund
The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative (Amendment 2) allows medical use of cannabis for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician and allows caregivers to assist patients’ use of medical cannabis.
– Mandates that the Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute cannabis for medical purposes shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers.
– Constitutional amendments on the ballot in Florida must garner at least 60% in order to pass. This is why the medical cannabis amendment on the ballot in 2014 failed, despite receiving 58% of the vote.
Montana is voting to amend their dysfunctional medical cannabis program that has basically been regulated out of existence. The initiative amends the Montana Marijuana Act of 2011 and renames it the “Montana Medical Marijuana Act” (I-182).
– Allows providers to hire employees to cultivate, dispense, and transport medical cannabis, and repeals the limit of three patients for each licensed provider.
– Repeals the requirement that physicians who provide certifications for 25 or more patients annually be referred to the Board of Medical Examiners.
– Removes the authority of law enforcement to conduct unannounced inspections of medical marijuana facilities and requires annual inspections by the State
The North Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative will be Initiated Statutory Measure 5 on the ballot and is also known as the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, which creates a state-regulated medical marijuana program for patients with specified debilitating conditions and written certifications from their doctors. Registered patients could obtain medical cannabis from a licensed non-profit compassion center, and if the patient lives 40+ miles away, they are permitted to cultivate a limited amount of cannabis for their medical use.
This year it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re registered to vote and get to the ballot box on November 8th. If you live in one of the nine states with a ballot initiative, cast your vote for ending prohibition or allowing patients access to medicine. Otherwise, don’t forget to cast your ballot for candidates at the local, state, and federal level who support cannabis reform to ensure that 2017 is the industry’s biggest year yet!