State marijuana laws in 2020: Updates

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Marijuana legislation has taken several unexpected turns and twists in the past several years. Many citizen-driven initiatives and state legislative efforts were placed on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational and medical purposes are all set to expand.

Several states are expected to have the opportunity to vote on marijuana legalization through state constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives in November 2020. The United States House of Representatives are expected to vote in September to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (Schedule I).

These are a few noteworthy legalization efforts to update marijuana laws by state.

Arizona update

Proposition 207 (the Smart and Safe Arizona Act) was approved on August 10 by the Secretary of State for the November ballot. This is expected to legalize the recreational use and possession of marijuana by adults over the age of 21 in Arizona. If passed, Proposition 207 shall form part of the current Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

Mississippi initiative measure approved for ballot

Initiative Measure No. 65 (citizen-driven ballot) and Alternative Initiative Measure No. 65A (Mississippi Legislature) were qualified for the ballot on January 8, 2020. These initiatives represent two separate amendments to the Mississippi Constitution regarding medical marijuana.

Both measures are targeted to amend the state constitution for creating a state medical marijuana program. Alternative Initiative Measure No. 65A will allow the state legislature to include further details subsequently since it has a less specific language.

Montana hoping to legalize marijuana

Constitutional Initiative No. 118 (CI-118) and Statutory Initiative No. 190 (I-190) were approved by the Secretary of State for November Ballot. I-190 was submitted by New Approach Montana in January 2020. If passed, both CI-118 and I-190 will join the existing Montana Medical Marijuana Act.

Enough signatures gathered in Nebraska

A Nebraska medical cannabis initiative gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The Nebraska Constitution is expected to gain an amendment for legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. The Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment, if passed, will authorize the Nebraska legislature to develop rules, laws, and regulations for governing medical marijuana programs.

The ballot initiative does not contain express language to prohibit marijuana testing by employers. It doesn’t protect employment candidates or applicants. However, the ballot initiative is still under challenge in Nebraska state court. The Nebraska Supreme Court is expected to determine whether state rules are being violated by the initiative.

New Jersey expected to decriminalize up to 16 ounces of marijuana possession

The Constitution of the State of New Jersey is stated to receive an amendment by Public Question No. 1 to legalize marijuana possession for recreational use in adults aged 21 years and over. The New Jersey Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee brought forth A1897/4269 on June 15th.

The bill was passed on June 18 that decriminalized possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis. The bill also reduced penalties for possession of up to 5 pounds.

Senators Sandra Cunningham, Teresa Ruiz and Ron Rice introduced a new bill on June 4 that would decriminalize possession of cannabis up to 16 pounds. The bill is called New Jersey S2535 with active ongoing deliberation.


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