The marijuana election has already started. While Election Day on November 3 is still weeks away, several states where cannabis and drug policy reform...

The marijuana election has already started. While Election Day on November 3 is still weeks away, several states where cannabis and drug policy reform measures are on the ballot have options to vote early, either in-person or by mail.

This year will be especially interesting, as legalizing cannabis for recreational or medical use isn’t the only drug reform topic that voters will decide on.

In a historic first, Oregon will get the chance to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes and decriminalize all currently illicit drugs. Washington, D.C. voters have a chance to decriminalize certain psychedelics in the nation’s capital. And five more states could legalize marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

The coronavirus pandemic has cast a spotlight on mail-in and early in-person voting, as more voters may be weary of standing in lines and potentially risking exposure. For those interested in taking advantage of these alternative options, here’s a guide with the key dates to remember, including deadlines for voter registration:

Arizona

What’s on the ballot? An initiative to legalize marijuana for adult use. Under the measure, adults could possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.

A poll released earlier this month showed a slim majority of Arizonans (51 percent) favor the proposal.

When does in-person early voting start? October 7

When are mail-in ballots sent out? October 7-10

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 5

Mississippi

What’s on the ballot? Two measures to legalize medical cannabis. But voting for this isn’t quite so simple.

After the activist-led initiative qualified, the legislature approved an alternative proposal that will appear alongside it. Advocates say this was a deliberate attempt to confuse people, split the vote and prevent the state from implementing a medical marijuana system.

The ballot is decidedly confusing, but polling shows when presented with the options, more voters favor the activists’ initiative.

When does in-person early voting start? Mississippi doesn’t provide for early in-person voting

When are mail-in ballots sent out? September 24

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 5

Montana

What’s on the ballot? A statutory measure to legalize marijuana for adult use and a separate constitutional amendment stipulating that only those 21 and older could access the market. If approved by voters, adults would be able to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to four plants and four seedlings at home.

When does in-person early voting start? October 5 (in select counties)

When are mail-in ballots sent out? October 9

What’s the voter registration deadline? November 3

New Jersey

What’s on the ballot? A referendum to legalize recreational cannabis. When the legislature failed to advance legalization legislation, they opted to place the issue before voters. If the measure is approved on Election Day, lawmakers will then have to pass implementing legislation containing details for how the legal cannabis market will work.

A poll released last month showed that 66 percent of likely voters in New Jersey support the measure.

When does in-person early voting start? September 19 (in select counties)

When are mail-in ballots sent out? September 19

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 13

Ohio

What’s on the ballot? Four local initiatives to decriminalize marijuana possession. Voters in Adena, Glouster, Jacksonville and Trimble will each see the reform measures on their ballots. If approved, they’ll join 18 other Ohio municipalities that have already enacted measures to lower penalties for misdemeanor cannabis possession in recent years.

When does in-person early voting start? October 6

When are mail-in ballots sent out? October 6

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 5

Oregon

What’s on the ballot? A measure to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes and a separate initiative to decriminalize possession of all currently illicit drugs while investing in substance misuse treatment.

Under the psilocybin measure, adults would be able to access the psychedelic in a medically supervised environment. There aren’t any limitations on the types of conditions that would make a patient eligible for the treatment.

The decriminalization initiative would remove criminal penalties for low-level drug possession offenses. It would also use existing tax revenue from marijuana sales, which voters legalized in 2014, to fund expanded substance misuse treatment programs.

When does in-person early voting start? Oregon does not provide for early in-person voting

When are mail-in ballots sent out? October 14

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 13

South Dakota

What’s on the ballot? A proposal legalize marijuana for adult use and a separate measure to legalize medical cannabis. If approved by voters, the constitutional adult-use amendment would allow people 21 and older to possess and distribute up to one ounce of marijuana, and they would also be allowed to cultivate up to three plants.

The statutory medical cannabis measure would allow patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions to possess and purchase up to three ounces of marijuana from a licensed dispensary.

According to a poll recently released by opponents of the policy change, about 60 percent of voters support the broader reform proposal and more than 70 percent back the narrower medical-focused initiative.

When does in-person early voting start? September 18

When are mail-in ballots sent out? September 18

What’s the voter registration deadline? October 19

Washington, D.C.

What’s on the ballot? An initiative to decriminalize a wide range of psychedelics such as psilocybin, ayahuasca and ibogaine. It would make enforcement of laws against entheogenic substances among the lowest local law enforcement priorities in the nation’s capital city.

According to a recent poll, three-in-five voters in the district favor the measure.

When does in-person early voting start? October 27

When are mail-in ballots sent out? It’s not clear when D.C. will mail out ballots.

What’s the voter registration deadline? November 3

Drug policy reform advocates faced unprecedented challenges qualifying these measures for the ballot amid the coronavirus pandemic, with multiple other campaigns throwing in the towel due to complications resulting from social distancing and shelter-in-place requirements. Their message to voters where reform made the cut is clear: pay attention to deadlines, read ballot instructions carefully and take advantage of the opportunity to choose from multiple voting options.

“We’re seeing a range of responses from supporters of marijuana reform,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment. “Some voters are relieved that they can securely vote using an absentee ballot or by voting early, while others are excited to go to the polls on Election Day.”

“The campaigns are working to accommodate all preferences. We’re answering questions from voters and assisting with navigating the absentee and early voting processes in each state,” he said. “Now more than ever, informing voters about the election process is crucial.”

Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment that “if you care about legalization, then you have to vote, period.”

“Whether or not a marijuana initiative is on the ballot, the legislatures are,” he said. “You can find where your candidates stand at vote.norml.org.”

Oregon Democratic Party Endorses Legal Psilocybin Therapy And Drug Decriminalization Ballot Measures

Photo courtesy of Democracy Chronicles.

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