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High on the Agenda: Marijuana on Several State Ballots This Fall

After coming off the 2016 high of 5 state victories, 2017 turned out to be a bust for pot, with at least 6 measures in 3 states failing. As is typical in non-election years, the advertising dollars weren't there, issue visibility was minimal, and voter turnouts were low.  But the tide of legalization may rise again this fall as voters face a replenished inventory of state initiatives advocating various measures for marijuana legalization.


So far, 9 states are expected to include pot on their November 2018 ballots. Most measures are aimed at decriminalizing either recreational or medical marijuana, with a handful focused on the regulation of industrial hemp products.  Early predictions suggest that Michigan and Oklahoma are likely to pass legislation in support of recreational and medical marijuana use, respectively.  Others--Arizona, Utah, Missouri, and Nebraska--have a pretty good shot at turning in enough signatures by ballot deadlines.  By November, the total number of states allowing sale and possession of recreational marijuana could increase to 13, plus Washington DC.  (In a bold move, Vermont recently approved the adult use of recreational marijuana entirely by the legislative process, rather than by statewide ballot.)


Public support for a medical cannabis use initiative is quite high in Utah, and, perhaps a bit surprisingly, among the Mormon community, where about 66% of parishioners favor the passing the law that would "protect seriously ill patients from arrest and prosecution if they use medical marijuana according to their doctors’ recommendations, allow medical marijuana card holders to purchase up to two ounces of cannabis or 10 grams of cannabidiol or tetrahydrocannabinol over a 14-day period, and establish restrictions on where and how licensed marijuana dispensaries could operate.” [1] Utah is among 16 states that allow for use of non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) oil to treat a variety of health problems, and support for total decriminalization continues to grow.


With record numbers of Americans--roughly two-thirds--in favor of legalization, 2018 could prove to be another banner year for the advancement of both recreational and medical marijuana.


It’s important to keep in mind how to talk to young people about marijuana in the age of legalization, which is something we have covered in our updated Project ALERT lessons, supplemental guides, and in prior newsletters.


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