These are monumental times for marijuana in the USA and in other countries around the world, as more pressure is being put on governments to accept and legalize marijuana, which is a natural, plant based medicine. Already approved in 24 states for medical use and 4 states for recreational use, marijuana approval is set to expand to several more states this year.
Three states are guaranteed to vote on marijuana in November 2016, namely Nevada, Florida and Maine.
Nevada’s recreational marijuana initiative was approved for the ballot in November last year and it aims to legalize the drug for persons 21 and over.
Florida’s medical marijuana initiative follows the narrow defeat in 2014 and will allow for medical marijuana to be available for debilitating medical conditions.
Maine announced that enough signatures had been obtained to obtain a recreational marijuana initiative on the ballot this coming November.
Marijuana for recreational use seems almost guaranteed to be on the November ballot in the state of California, which has collected 600 000 signatures, more than enough to qualify the initiative. This measure would allow adults aged 21 and older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes and would allow individuals to grow up to 6 plants for personal use.
Arizona, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and Oklahoma are still collecting signatures to make it onto the ballot.
The legalization of marijuana initiative in North Dakota is interesting because the bill proposes to prevent the state from requiring a license to grow, possess or distribute marijuana.
It is hoped that state-level approvals will eventually come to the attention of Congress, forcing lawmakers into re-considering the Federal government’s stance on marijuana. Currently, the substance is scheduled as a dangerous drug with no medicinal value, which means it cannot be researched extensively. Also, marijuana businesses cannot write off business expenses as tax deductions, meaning that at the moment, they have to pay considerably more tax than other legal entities. Not only that, but marijuana businesses struggle to obtain credit and basic financial services, which can cripple the expansion of a small cannabis business.