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If Five States OK Recreational Pot This Fall, It Will Be Legal In 25 States

Voters in at least five states will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana this fall, and a similar measure may qualify for the ballot in one more state. If all six initiatives are successful, recreational use will be legal in half of the states, underlining the untenability of continuing federal prohibition, reports In Arkansas, where medical use was legalized in 2016, voters will consider an initiative that would allow adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use. The initiative would authorize current medical dispensaries, plus up to 40 additional licensees, to serve the recreational market, with sales taxed at 10 percent. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who ran the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from 2001 to 2003, opposes the initiative and has urged law enforcement agencies to "stand firm" against it. In Maryland, where legislators authorized medical use in 2013, voters will consider a measure that would amend the state constitution to allow adults 21 or older to "use and possess cannabis."

In Missouri, where voters approved medical marijuana in 2018, this year's ballot initiative would amend the state constitution to "remove state prohibitions on purchasing, possessing, consuming, using, delivering, manufacturing, and selling marijuana for personal use" by adults 21 or older. It would "allow persons with certain marijuana-related non-violent offenses to petition for release from incarceration or parole and probation and have records expunged." In North Dakota, a ballot initiative would allow adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce in public and grow up to three plants at home. Two years ago in South Dakota, 54 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment that would have legalized recreational marijuana. Last November, in a lawsuit backed by Gov. Kristi Noem, the South Dakota Supreme Court overturned that initiative, concluding that it violated the state's "single subject" rule for constitutional amendments. Reformers are trying this year with an "initiated state statute" that would "legalize the use and possession of recreational marijuana" by adults 21 or older. In Oklahoma, where voters approved medical marijuana by a 14-point margin in 2018, they could have a chance to go further in November. State officials are verifying signatures for a ballot initiative that would legalize recreational use and authorize businesses to serve that market.


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