Every two years, more states elect to legalize cannabis via statewide ballot measures. These measures are so overwhelmingly popular that they rarely fail when put before the voters.

The challenge lies in getting them on the ballot, often in the face of intense opposition from local elected leaders. That’s the tough task for many advocates in the spring and summer of 2022.

This year seven states could have adult-use or medical legalization on the November 8 ballot—and we’ll track them every step of the way.

Read on to learn more about the states in play in 2022, what the various measures would do, and where each campaign stands.

Guide to 2022 cannabis legalization campaigns

Arkansas

Proposed measures: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

Although five organizations initially filed to put adult-use initiatives on the 2022 ballot, only two continue to gather signatures: Arkansas True Grass and Responsible Growth Arkansas.

Arkansas True Grass supports the Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment of 2022. The amendment would allow adults to possess up to four ounces of marijuana, automatically expunge non-violent marijuana records, and allow adults to grow up to 12 plants at home.

Responsible Growth Arkansas is behind the Arkansas Adult-Use Cannabis Amendment. It would allow for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. It would not legalize homegrow. 

The two campaigns have until July 8, 2022, to collect 89,000 valid signatures in order to qualify for the November 8 ballot.

Latest polling: According to a poll conducted this February, about 54% of Arkansas residents support adult-use legalization.

Maryland

Proposed measure: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

The Maryland Marijuana Legalization Amendment has been certified and will appear on the November ballot.

The amendment legalizes marijuana possession for adults beginning July 1, 2023. Additionally, it requires lawmakers to implement a regulatory framework for the program, via separate legislation.

The Maryland legislature has already tackled the latter issue, via House Bill 837. If Maryland voters pass legalization in November, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has said he will sign the bill.

As Leafly has reported, HB 837 lays out a few basic guidelines for the program:

  • Adults would be able to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis.
  • Possession of 1.5 ounces to 2.5 ounces would be subject only to a fine, and not be considered a criminal offense.
  • Adults would be able to grow two cannabis plants at home.
  • The state would automatically expunge the records of individuals convicted of crimes considered legal by HB 837.
  • Individuals previously charged with intent to distribute can petition for expungement after serving three years of their sentence.

Latest polling: According to a Goucher College poll released this March, 62% of Maryland voters support legalization.

Related

Maryland will vote on legal cannabis in November

Minnesota

Proposed measure: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

Recreational cannabis isn’t on the ballot directly in Minnesota this year, but the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) is pitching itself as the only viable path to legalization. Minnesota Republicans continue to stonewall legislation—which governor Tim Waltz (D) supports—in the state Senate.

And just like in 2020, this year the state GOP wants to confuse voters by entering bogus candidates as representatives of the Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party. Data shows that in 2020, this meddling siphoned enough votes away from DFL candidates to tip certain state senate seats for Republicans—which had the direct effect of killing a legalization bill in the spring of 2021.

Latest polling: Nothing yet; watch this space.

Related

Did Minnesota’s marijuana legalization parties kill marijuana legalization?

Missouri

Proposed measure: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

In May 2022, the organization Legal Missouri 2022 announced they’d gathered double the necessary signatures to place the Missouri Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which is a constitutional amendment, on the November 8, 2022, ballot.

State officials still must validate the signatures before the initiative can officially get added to the ballot.

If passed, the constitutional amendment would permit retail sales, tax marijuana at 6% (with an additional local-option tax of 3%), create equity licenses, and automatically expunge the records of residents with nonviolent marijuana-related offenses.

Opponents of the bill say it would enable existing medical providers to monopolize the market.

Latest polling: Nothing yet; watch this space.

Nebraska

Proposed measure: Medical marijuana legalization

Current state status: Prohibition state

After the state’s GOP-led Supreme Court quashed a medical marijuana ballot initiative in 2020 on the grounds that it violated a single-subject law, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) regrouped and have returned with a new campaign for 2022. 

NMN must gather 87,000 signatures by July 7, 2022, for each of two initiatives: the Patient Protection Act, and the Medical Cannabis Regulation Act. 

The first initiative would protect the legal right of patients and caregivers to possess and use medical cannabis. The second would establish the Nebraska Medical Cannabis Commission, which would in turn create a regulatory framework for the program—so patients could actually obtain cannabis from reliable sources.

If the initiatives make it to the November ballot, it won’t be an easy campaign for either of them. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) remains a staunch opponent of medical marijuana. “If you legalize marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids,” he said in 2021.

The medical legalization campaign also encountered a huge financial setback in March 2022, when a major donor died. Without those funds, the campaign has been unable to hire paid petition gatherers.

Latest polling: According to NMN, roughly 80% of Nebraskans support legalizing medical marijuana

North Dakota

Proposed measure: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

On April 22, 2022, North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R), gave New Approach North Dakota the green light to begin collecting signatures to put an adult-use legalization measure on the November 8 ballot. 

Activists only have until July 11, 2022, to gather about 16,000 valid signatures, which is equal to 2% of the state’s population.

The measure would ​​legalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, four grams of cannabis concentrate, and up to 500 milligrams of edibles. Adults could legally grow three plants at home. The state would be required to create a market of retailers, manufacturers, and enact testing and tracking procedures.

Latest polling: Nothing yet. Watch this space.

Oklahoma

Proposed measures: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

Two different organizations hope to put legalization measures on the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot.

Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws supports State Question 820. On May 3, 2022, they began collecting signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.

SQ 820 would put a 15% excise tax on all adult-use purchases, eliminate the state’s medical marijuana tax, and provide a pathway for individuals seeking expungement. 

The campaign must collect 94,911 signatures by August 1, 2022.

Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action, on the other hand, is behind SQ 818 and SQ 819. As of this writing, the group has not received a green light from the state Supreme Court to begin gathering signatures.

The companion measures 818 and 819—which, unlike State Question 820, would amend the state constitution—serve primary to guarantee residents’ access to marijuana, and to legalize adult-use. SQ 819 would tax purchases at a rate of 15%.

The campaign will need to collect roughly 178,000 valid signatures by August 1, 2022. Oklahoma law requires more signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Latest polling: Nothing yet; watch this space.

South Dakota

Proposed measures: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

On May 3, 2022, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) submitted the required signatures to put a new adult-use legalization initiative on the November 2022 ballot. 

Even though South Dakota voters passed legalization by healthy margins on the Nov. 2020 ballot, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) used taxpayer dollars to fund a lawsuit to overturn the vote. In Nov. 2021, the state Supreme Court sided with Noem and killed the approved measure.

As of this writing, SDBML awaits a sign-off from the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office to officially begin the campaign.

The new initiative emphasizes civil liberties: It would legalize personal possession and limited home cultivation, and reduce related criminal penalties.

As in Nebraska, South Dakota legalization advocates face the opposition of a sitting governor and an organized opposition. The group NO Way on Amendment A opposed the measure in 2020, and is expected to show up again this fall.

Latest polling: Nothing yet; watch this space.

Max Savage Levenson and Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Max Savage Levenson and Bruce Barcott

Max Savage Levenson is Leafly’s chief political correspondent covering the 2020 election. He’s based in Missoula, Montana.

Bruce Barcott is Leafly’s senior editor for news and investigations.

View Max Savage Levenson and Bruce Barcott’s articles



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