Voters in five states — Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota — will decide next Tuesday on statewide ballot measures to legalize the use of marijuana by adults. (Voters in a sixth state, Oklahoma, will also decide the issue during a special election to be held in March.)
Currently, 19 states — comprising 44 percent of the US population — have legalized and regulated adult-use marijuana markets. If voters approve these five new measures, approximately half of all US residents will reside in a jurisdiction where the possession and use of cannabis are legal for adults.
In 2020, voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota approved similar adult-use legalization measures. (South Dakota’s election results were later nullified by the state’s Supreme Court.) In 2016, California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada voters approved similar initiatives.
“In this age of hyper-partisan politics, legalizing and regulating marijuana is one of the few political issues that voters on both the ideological ‘right’ and ‘left’ agree upon,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said.
In addition to these statewide efforts, voters in dozens of cities will be deciding on municipal ballot questions this fall. For instance, voters in five Texas cities — Denton, Elgin, Harker Heights, Killeen, and San Marcos — will decide on measures seeking to amend local laws curtailing police officers’ authority to “issue citations or make arrests for Class A or Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana offenses” absent a defendant’s alleged involvement in a “felony level narcotics” case. Voters in several Ohio cities will also decide on municipal measures depenalizing activities involving marijuana possession.
“These additional local efforts help create pressure from the ground up. We are reaching out to voters in these localities to ensure they are registered to vote, know about the issues on the ballot, and get out to the ballot boxes,” says Jax James, NORML’s State Policy Manager. “Between local and state efforts, these initiatives will affect over 18 million Americans.”
In Rhode Island, voters in 31 towns will decide on measures determining whether or not to allow licensed cannabis retailers in their localities. Voters in cities in several other states, including Colorado, Michigan, and Montana, will also decide on similar local ballot measures.
A detailed breakdown of state and local 2022 marijuana ballot initiatives is available from NORML’s Election Central.