A Look at Marijuana Initiatives on the November Ballot: Two States Confirmed, Three More in the Running

Currently, two states are guaranteed to be voting on marijuana legalization initiatives this November, with a few others vying to join that list.

At the time of publication, Florida and South Dakota are the two states with marijuana legalization initiatives definitely being voted on this November. However, Arkansas and North Dakota also have legalization initiatives vying for the November ballot, with Nebraska advocates aiming to put a medical marijuana initiative to a vote.

Below is a deeper look at the two states with marijuana initiatives that are certain to be on this November’s ballot:

South Dakota

Yesterday, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws and Secretary of State Monae L. Johnson announced that enough valid signatures have been submitted for an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana that it will be officially voted on this November as Measure 29.

If passed by voters, Measure 29 would permit individuals aged 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to three marijuana plants at a private residence. Additionally, it would authorize a system of licensed and regulated marijuana stores to distribute marijuana and marijuana products.

In 2020, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws successful placed a marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot, with it receiving support from 54% of voters. Due to a technicality in the initiative’s language, the measure was thrown out by state courts. A subsequent effort in 2022 that addressed the court’s issues also made the ballot, but failed with 47% support amid lower voter turnout given it was not a presidential election.

According to polling release last month, a plurality of voters in the state support legalizing marijuana, 45% to 42%. Although support for legalization was 2% lower than support for the 2022 initiative, opposition to legalization was 10% lower than opposition to the 2022 initiative.

Florida

In November, voters will decide the fate of Amendment 3, which would allow individuals aged 21 and older to possess up to three ounces of dried marijuana flower and up to five grams of marijuana concentrates. These products would be available for purchase through licensed marijuana retail outlets and medical marijuana dispensaries that choose to obtain a dual license.

A University of North Florida poll released in November found that 67% of likely voters support Amendment 3, surpassing the 60% threshold required for the measure to become law as a constitutional amendment.

As of April, the campaign supporting Amendment 3 has raised over $55 million, exceeding the funding of any previous legalization campaign. For context, proponents of California’s successful Proposition 64 raised $25 million in 2016, while those behind Ohio’s Issue 2 (approved last year) raised just $7 million.

Below are the states with marijuana initiatives that are on track to make this November’s ballot, but it’s not a sure thing:

Arkansas

In February Arkansans Attorney General Tim Griffin gave approval to the ballot language of an initiative submitted by  Arkansans for Patient Access that would expand the state’s medical marijuana program and ease access for patients. The group immediately began collecting signatures in hopes of making this November’s ballot. To achieve that goal, they must collect 90,704 signatures by July 5.

Yesterday, the director of the initiative campaign said that the group is “confident” the initiative will make the November ballot.

The initiative would expand the state’s medical marijuana law, passed in 2016, to allow patients to grow their own marijuana at a private residence, with the limit set at seven mature plants and seven immature plants. It would also remove the retail prohibition on certain smokeable marijuana products such as pre-rolls, and it would legalize recreational marijuana, with the possession limit set at one ounce, if the federal government removes marijuana as a controlled substance.

The initiative would also:

  • Allow medical marijuana assessments and renewals to be conducted via telehealth.
  • Allow out-of-state patients to receive protections under the state’s medical marijuana law.
  • Expand new patient cards to last three years rather than one.
  • Allow  physician assistants, nurse practitioners and pharmacists to recommend medical marijuana in addition to  physicians.
  • Allow the above list of healthcare professions to recommend medical marijuana for any condition they deem appropriate, rather than having to follow the current list of qualifying conditions.

North Dakota

North Dakota Secretary of State Michael Howe recently gave approval to an initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana, allowing proponents of the measure to begin collecting signatures in hopes of putting it to a vote during the November 2024 or 2025 election. The proposed initiative would allow those 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, four grams of marijuana concentrates and 1500 milligrams of adult-use cannabinoid products (300 milligrams of this can be in the form of edible products). The initiative would also allow the personal cultivation of up to three marijuana plants, and it would allow marijuana and marijuana products to be purchased through licensed marijuana stores.

The nonprofit political committee New Economic Frontier now has one year to collect 15,582 signatures from registered North Dakota voters in order to put their marijuana legalization measure to a vote. If the signatures are gathered by July 8, the initiative will be voted on this November. If signatures are collected after July 8 the measure would be placed on the 2025 general election ballot.

The 15,582 signature requirement is based on the legal requirement of 2% of the resident population of the state, based on the most recent US Census data.

Nebraska

The nonprofit political committee Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) is currently collecting signatures for a pair of initiatives that would legalize medical marijuana and provide protections for physicians who recommend it. Crista Eggers, campaign manager for the nonprofit group Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, recently said that they’ve collected over 55,000 signatures on each initiative, 63% of the 87,000 signatures needed for the two proposals to be voted on this November.

The medical marijuana legalization initiative would “enact a statute that makes penalties inapplicable under state and local law for the use, possession, and acquisition of limited quantities of cannabis for medical purposes by a qualified patient with a written recommendation from a health care practitioner, and for a caregiver to assist a qualified patient in these activities.”

The proposal would create the Nebraska Medical Cannabis Commission to provide the necessary “registration and regulation of persons that possess, manufacture, distribute, deliver, and dispense cannabis for medical purposes.”

The second initiative would provide legal protections for  doctors who recommend marijuana to their patients.

Polling released earlier this year —commissioned by the Neilan Strategy Group, and conducted by Data Targeting Inc.— found that 70% of voters in the state support legalizing medical marijuana.

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