There is more to Tuesday’s national election than who or which party controls the White House and Congress – there are also questions, in four states, as to whether marijuana can be legalized for personal use, and in two others about legalizing marijuana for medical use.
NASCUS – since at least 2014 — was among the first organizations representing state regulators, credit unions or financial institutions to call for clarity in federal law regarding financial institutions’ ability to serve legal marijuana businesses. The federal government continues to classify marijuana, also known as cannabis, as an illegal controlled substance, which complicates the ability of credit unions to serve legal marijuana-related businesses within their states.
Nevertheless, states continue to consider legalization for personal or medical use. Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota have statewide ballot measures asking voters to legalize marijuana for personal use. More specifically, by state, the measures would:
In Arizona: legalize possession and use of marijuana for persons who are at least 21 years old, enact a tax on marijuana sales, and require the state to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses.
In Montana: amend the state constitution to allow for the legislature or a citizen initiative to establish a minimum legal age for the possession, use, and purchase of marijuana, similar to the regulation of alcohol under the state constitution.
In New Jersey: legalize the possession and use of marijuana for persons age 21 and older and legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana.
In South Dakota: legalize the recreational use of marijuana and require the state legislature to pass laws providing for the use of medical marijuana and the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022.
Meanwhile, in addition to the South Dakota effort, medical marijuana use is up for consideration in Mississippi too – but with a much more complicated procedure. Two versions of a medical marijuana amendment are under consideration in the Magnolia State, one advanced by citizens (but subject to state legislature consideration), and the other advanced by the state legislature. The former measure is known as a “indirect initiated constitutional amendment.” The latter is the alternative developed by the state legislature after its consideration.
Thus, voters have choices: They may select “either measure” or “neither.” If they select the latter, they can move on in their voting – or select one of the medical marijuana versions just in case the “eithers” outpoll the “neithers.”
On the other hand, if a voter selects “either” at the start of this process, the voter must then answer the second question: that is, “which one?”
The “indirect” version (advanced by citizens) would allow medical marijuana treatment for more than 20 specified qualifying conditions, allow individuals to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at one time, and tax marijuana sales at the current state sales tax rate of 7%.
The state legislature’s version would restrict smoking marijuana to terminally ill patients; require pharmaceutical-grade marijuana products and treatment oversight by licensed physicians, nurses, and pharmacists; and leave tax rates, possession limits, and certain other details to be set by the legislature.
To date, 44 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana use and possession for either recreation or medical use (11 for recreational, 33 and D.C. legalizing or decriminalizing medical marijuana).