This year the four biggest and most important marijuana elections in the country are the legalization initiatives in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia as well as the medical marijuana amendment on the ballot in Florida. These aren’t the only places where voters will get a chance to weigh in on the future of marijuana policy however. Over a dozen small measures will appear on ballots across the country next month.
Guam – This unincorporated territory of the United States will be voting on whether or not to legalize medical marijuana this November. The legislature put Proposal 14A on the ballot to give the whole electorate the power to decide this issue. If approved the ballot measure would have the territory set up a regulated medical marijuana system where patients could buy medical marijuana from dispensaries.
Michigan – The Safer Michigan Coalition has helped put local marijuana measures on the ballot in roughly a dozen cities across the state this year. The city measures would remove local penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and over. Since marijuana would still remain illegal under state law it is hard to know the direct impact each would have if approved. The vote would at least send a message to local law enforcement about how their community wants resources to be used and help build support for statewide action. Michigan does allow statewide ballot initiatives and so could possibly be a target for reform groups in 2016 or 2018.
Maine – The cities of South Portland and Lewiston will both be voting on measures to make it legal under local law for adults 21 and over to possess a small amount of marijuana. Again because marijuana would still technically be illegal under state law the direct impact if approved could be modest, but these measures are part of a long-term effort to build popular support for legalizaction in the state. The Marijuana Policy Project is planning a statewide ballot initiative campaign in Maine for 2016.
New Mexico – Voters in New Mexico’s two most populated counties, Bernalillo and Santa Fe, will be asked if they think the state should decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. The measures on the ballot are non-binding so even if they are approved overwhelmingly it doesn’t necessary mean the law will change, but a strong vote could put real pressure on local politicians to act.
Massachusetts – Massachusetts allows citizens to put non binding Public Policy Questions on the ballot in individual districts to gauge the public’s support. This year local activists have placed marijuana legalization questions on the ballot in several districts across the state. The result from similar PPQs in 2012 strongly indicated the voters of the state are ready to embrace marijuana legalization. Massachusetts is also a potent top target for a 2016 state-wide marijuana legalization initiative effort.