It’s a midterm election year in the United States and in the cannabis industry, there’s only one word that comes to mind – legalization. Ah, but of course!
This November, a handful of U.S. states will be preparing to vote on various cannabis initiatives. While some states will see added provisions to their current cannabis laws, other states will be seeing the word “marijuana” on their ballots for the very first time. How exciting is that?
As voters prepare to hit the polls in November, one state in particular continues to receive serious backlash in its efforts to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Utah’s Medical Cannabis Controversy
Utah has been preparing to vote on Proposition 2, which would lead to the legalization of medical cannabis for individuals with cancer, HIV, epilepsy, chronic pain and other serious health concerns. However, members of the campaign against legalizing medical cannabis in Utah filed a second (yes, second) lawsuit on Wednesday in hopes to scrap the initiative completely.
Why is this such a big deal, you may ask? Well, it just so happens that Utah is largely populated by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church. Due to the religion’s strict policies on drugs and alcohol in its community, members of the church are having a hard time getting past the idea of cannabis appearing on this year’s ballot.
One specific issue facing the church is the possibility of, in the instance medical cannabis is passed, having to do business or engage in any way with individuals who use medical cannabis. For example, those who are against the proposition argue that Mormon landlords could be forced into renting homes to cannabis users, which goes directly against the basis of their religion.
While controversy looms between legalization advocates and church members, the proposition to legalize cannabis will be ever present on the ballot this November. Now let the games begin!
Arizona Judge Rejects Autism
It’s worth noting that Utah isn’t the only state undergoing controversy in the face of cannabis reform. Recently a judge in Arizona ruled against adding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to the list of qualifying medical conditions.
The proposition was introduced by parents who found the medical components of cannabis to be very beneficial in improving the quality of life for their children diagnosed with autism. In one specific instance, a parent of a child with severe autism noted that including medical cannabis in the child’s treatment regimen not only helped her son calm down, but dramatically improved his speaking ability.
While the evidence of success between cannabis and autism is present for the families that require access to it, the judge upheld her decision by arguing that the proposal, “failed to provide evidence that the use of marijuana will provide therapeutic or palliative benefit to an individual suffering from ASD.”
On the plus side, a number of studies are beginning to make headway, and hopefully it won’t be long until ASD is added to the list of qualifying conditions in the state of Arizona. Fingers crossed.
Missouri’s Three Propositions
Unlike Utah and Arizona, the state of Missouri is going above and beyond this election year. When Missourians hit the poll booths in November, they will be presented with not one, not two, but THREE new cannabis propositions on their ballots. And this is a pretty big deal for the Show-Me State.
Missouri has come a long way since the last time the legalization of medical cannabis was introduced. In 2016, advocates of New Approach Missouri fell short by 23 signatures setting them back. This year, however, things are looking up, especially since New Approach Missouri made it its mission to secure a spot on the ballot by surpassing the number of required signatures.
In addition to voting on the legalization of medical cannabis, Missourians will find two other initiatives on their ballot.
The Bradshaw Amendment, which was named for attorney and physician Brad Bradshaw who funded the bill, will provide voters with the opportunity to establish a state-funded research institute. By establishing this type of center, researchers have an open window into the development of various treatments and cures for conditions that benefit from the medicinal properties of the magical cannabis plant.
Finally, the last measure on this year’s ballot will give Missourians the option to vote yay or nay on the Patient Care Act. The Patient Care Act would set the foundation for funding programs for veterans, drug treatment, early childhood education and public safety in cities that have medical cannabis facilities.
With three proposals on their ballot, there’s a pretty high chance Missouri could see some progress with cannabis reform come November.
Florida’s New Nominee for Governor
It’s safe to say that the state of Florida has faced many obstacles in its efforts to legalize cannabis, and now things are starting to look up.
After an astonishing victory in the state’s primary, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has secured his seat as the Democratic nominee for governor of Florida. It’s been almost twenty years since Florida elected a Democratic governor and the hype this year is definitely worth it.
While Mayor Gillum is indeed a progressive politician, he is also an outspoken advocate for cannabis reform. Even though the state legalized medical cannabis in 2016, it’s been a touchy subject when it comes to its use for recreational purposes.
Not only has Gillum been public with his support to fully legalize cannabis for adult-use, he has full-blown embraced it. His understanding of legalization has led him to build on more than just the freedom to smoke a little pot. Gillum has expressed the need to end the mass incarceration crisis in Florida and by legalizing cannabis, Gillum believes the number of drug related arrests would decrease dramatically. It’s a win-win.
In addition to his stance on mass incarceration, Gillum suggested that, if legalized, taxing cannabis would increase the state’s funding for public education. Gillum told Vox that, “teachers are making less than they did in 2000. We now rank 47th in America in average instructional staff salary.” He went on to add that if elected governor, he would “inject new revenue into the state budget by legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana providing the state with the ability to increase the pay of public school teachers.”
While it isn’t a guarantee that Gillum will win the election, the fact that he has gained public support for his progressive beliefs says a lot about the future course of Florida politics. I think it’s safe to say that Florida is definitely moving in the right direction and no matter the outcome this November, Florida voters may come to see their home state in a whole new light – a green light, if you will.