This past year advocates and lawmakers have been hard at work pushing to get everything from local cannabis decriminalization to psychedelics reform on local ballots.
November 2nd, voters across the U.S. voted on new marijuana and psychedelics ballot measures — November elections seen city-level drug policy reform ballot initiatives as cities endorsed cannabis and psychedelics measures — while a marijuana taxation and education-funding effort in Colorado was defeated.
As congressional lawmakers fight to end federal marijuana prohibition — advocates continue to build support for psychedelics reform. There were numerous proposals that voters in states like Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania decided on this month.
Let’s look at the policy measures and the results from the November 2nd elections.
Policy Measures and Voting Results
Vote to increase the statewide cannabis tax from 15 percent to 20 percent and a proposed 1.5 percent increase for the cannabis tax in the state’s capital city to help fund pandemic related research.
Result: Voters rejected ballot measures to increase taxes on cannabis. A city-wide measure in Denver to raise the local tax on cannabis to fund pandemic safety research prompted similar debates, and also lost.
Michigan has become a leader in the U.S. when it comes to psychedelic decriminalization. Most recently, Grand Rapids decriminalized the possession of psychedelics in a city council approved measure. Voters in Detroit voted to decriminalize the possession and cultivation of psychedelics.
Result: Detroit voted to decriminalize several categories of psychedelic drugs. With a proposal like those adopted by Denver and Detroit’s neighboring city of Ann Arbor, voters agreed to decriminalize to the fullest extent permitted under Michigan law the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults. This refers to naturally occurring psychedelics including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, mescaline and ibogaine. Furthermore, the ballot measure makes — the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.
With 22 jurisdictions in Ohio already decriminalizing cannabis possession, voters in Ohio look to add 15 cities to the list.
Result: Of these 15 cities — Martins Ferry, Murray City, New Lexington, New Straitsville, Rayland, Tiltonsville and Yorkville approved decriminalization. They will now join 22 other Ohio municipalities that previously passed cannabis decriminalization measures. The language of the approved measures varied. Some specified they would lower “the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by State Law,” while others reclassified low-level cannabis possession as a “minor misdemeanor drug abuse offense” with a fine of $0.00.
Despite urging from the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and citizens — state lawmakers haven’t moved forward with recreational cannabis legalization until recently. Philadelphia citizens voted on a referendum calling on lawmakers to move legalization efforts forward.
Result: The city of Philadelphia voted in favor of a referendum supporting recreational cannabis legalization in Pennsylvania. The referendum is non-binding, but it’s an official statement from the state’s largest city calling on state lawmakers to legalize.
Looking Ahead to 2022
Looking ahead to 2022, activists are working to get drug policy reform on the ballot. South Dakota’s secretary of state on Tuesday gave activists approval to introduce a signature gathering drive to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the state’s 2022 ballot. Oklahoma activists filed a pair of 2022 ballot initiatives to legalize adult-use marijuana and remodel the state’s existing medical cannabis program. Nebraska marijuana activists have begun petitioning for a pair of corresponding initiatives to legalize medical cannabis to place on the state’s 2022 ballot.
Florida activists recently filed a ballot measure to legalize marijuana for adult use. Wyoming’s attorney general recently issued ballot summaries for proposed initiatives to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize cannabis possession, freeing up activists to collect signatures to qualify for the 2022 ballot. A California campaign was recently cleared to begin collecting signatures for an initiative to legalize psilocybin. And advocates in Washington State have announced plans to put a proposal to decriminalize all drug before voters.