On November 8th, 64 percent of North Dakota voters approved Measure 5, a medical marijuana initiative called the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act. Measure 5 will allow patients with a qualifying condition and a doctor’s recommendation to receive medical marijuana through a state-licensed dispensary. Patients will be able to possess up to 3 ounces of medical marijuana for the treatment of up to nearly a dozen medical conditions. Patients living more than 40 miles from a dispensary will be able to cultivate up to eight plants. The law will go into effect on December 8, when the Department of Health will begin the process to develop regulations to implement the program, including the processes for licensing businesses and enrolling patients.
Montana voters approved a compassionate medical marijuana ballot measure on Election Day by 55 percent. This is the second time Montana’s voters moved marijuana policy forward. In 2004, Montana became the tenth state to adopt a medical marijuana measure. In 2011, lawmakers replaced it with an unworkable system. On November 8th, the state’s voters restored patients’ medical cannabis access. This vote comes after years of court battles over the state’s 2011 law which limited providers to three patients and required the state to initiate an investigation into any doctor that recommended medical marijuana to 25 or more patients per year. Ballot measure I-182 not only rolls back those restrictive provisions, but it creates new regulations that include testing, protections for workers, and licensing for businesses.
The first state in the Bible Belt has voted to legalize medical marijuana. With the approval of Issue 6 on November 8th, the people of Arkansas have voted to allow patients with a variety of medical conditions and a doctor’s recommendation to buy marijuana from dispensaries. Patients won’t be allowed to grow their own. The measure allows people who have any of 18 qualifying conditions — such as cancer, glaucoma, Tourette’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease and hepatitis C — to access dispensaries.
By a razor-thin margin, Maine became the eighth state to legalize recreational marijuana after Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Massachusetts, Nevada and California. The Maine Marijuana Legalization Measure, known as Question 1, which will legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis, passed with a reported 51 percent in favor. Question 1 is arguably more progressive than any of the legalization programs currently in effect. Residents will be allowed to grow twice as many plants as in Colorado and three times as many as Oregon. Maine’s visitors will be able to consume cannabis in social clubs, but public consumption will remain illegal.
Last month an estimated 71 percent of Florida voters overwhelming approved a state constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana, broadening access beyond the limited therapeutic uses approved by the legislature two years ago. Currently, the law allows non-smoked, low-THC pot for patients with cancer or ailments that cause chronic seizures or severe spasms. The ballot measure, Amendment 2, formally legalizes medical marijuana, and broadens access for diseases with symptoms other than seizures or spasms. Amendment 2 also allows for the creation of medical marijuana treatment centers where medicinal marijuana will be cultivated and dispensed to patients and caregivers with doctor certification.