August was another extremely busy month for marijuana news! But don’t worry: We’ve compiled anything you might have missed right here in this email…
This Month’s Top Marijuana Policy Developments
Here’s some of the most important legislative and business news you need to know about from the past month:
DEA refuses to reschedule marijuana. In what might be the biggest marijuana news of the year — until Election Day, that is — the Drug Enforcement Administration finally issued its ruling on whether to reclassify marijuana. Unfortunately, the agency decided to keep cannabis in Schedule I, a classification that’s more restrictive than the one for cocaine and which is supposed to be reserved for drugs with no medical value. Marijuana Majority is pushing back by urging Congress to overrule the DEA. Please take action and contact your senators today if you haven’t already.
More marijuana initiatives qualify for state ballots. We got some good news this month, too. Officials certified that advocates collected enough signatures to put a marijuana legalization measure on Arizona’s November ballot and that a medical cannabis initiative qualified in North Dakota. Here’s a complete look at the confirmed statewide marijuana ballot questions that voters will decide on this year:
- Arizona: Full legalization – Proposition 205
- Arkansas: Medical cannabis – Issue 6 & Issue 7
- California: Full legalization – Proposition 64
- Florida: Medical cannabis – Amendment 2
- Maine: Full legalization – Question 1
- Massachusetts: Full legalization – Question 4
- Montana: Restore state’s existing medical cannabis law – Initiative 182
- Nevada: Full legalization – Question 2
- North Dakota – Medical cannabis – Measure 5
A few other measures are pending the results of lawsuits and disputes over signature and drafting technicalities, so we could still see medical cannabis initiatives on Missouri’s or Oklahoma’s ballots, and voters in Michigan may get the chance to decide on full legalization.
Federal court blocks medical marijuana prosecutions. Dealing a huge blow to the DEA, a federal appeals court ruled that a Congressionally-approved amendment stops the Department of Justice from spending any money to prosecute people for activity that is in compliance with state medical marijuana policies, regardless of the ongoing federal prohibition.
Illinois decriminalizes marijuana. Late in July, after our last newsletter went out, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed into law a bill that will replace many low-level marijuana arrests with fines. Twenty-one states have now removed the threat of jail for possessing small amounts of cannabis.
Marijuana reform gets local. This month the State College, Pennsylvania Borough Council approved an ordinance to reduce penalties for marijuana offenses. In Port Richey, Florida, the City Council advanced a similar measure. City councilmembers in Memphis and Nashville — the two largest cities in Tennessee — are considering ordinances to replace low-level cannabis arrests with modest fines. Local lawmakers in Urbana and Champaign, Illinois agreed to place nonbinding advisory questions about legalizing marijuana before voters on November ballots. And City Council members in Norfolk, Virginia are preparing to push state lawmakers to decriminalize cannabis.
Polls show marijuana reform momentum heading into November. A survey found that 64% of California voters support legalizing marijuana. In Arkansas, 68% of voters back the proposed medical cannabis measure. Florida is likely to approve medical marijuana this year, too, as a survey found that 68% of the state’s likely voters support the initiative on November’s ballot. In Utah, where lawmakers have been considering medical cannabis, 64% of likely voters are on board. In a national survey, 56% of Americans now support legalizing marijuana. And a PolitiFact analysis showed that every national poll since 2014 has consistently found more people supporting legalization than opposing it. We. Are. Winning.
As Election Day approaches, please help our movement continue our momentum by making a contribution to Marijuana Majority.