State-by-State Update: Marijuana Legalization Efforts Across Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota

State-by-State Update: Marijuana Legalization Efforts Across Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota

More than ten years have passed since Colorado and Washington state pioneered the legalization of recreational marijuana. Since then, 24 states along with Washington D.C. have followed suit, and seventeen others have approved medical marijuana with varying conditions under each state's laws.

Now, four additional states—Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota—may soon join the growing list. Advocates in these states are aiming to have referendums on their November general election ballots, allowing voters to decide on legalizing either recreational or medical marijuana.

Here's the current status of efforts in each state as of April 20:

Florida What's on the Florida ballot? Florida's Amendment 3, concerning recreational marijuana, would permit individuals aged 21 and older to possess and use up to three ounces of marijuana. It would also allow the purchase of marijuana from dispensaries without needing a medical marijuana card, among other changes to state law.

Will it pass? For the referendum to pass, at least 60% of Floridians must vote in favor of legalization. Although this is a high threshold, advocates in the state believe it's achievable. A November poll from the University of North Florida indicated that 67% of residents support legalizing recreational marijuana.

The cannabis industry is eyeing this opportunity to tap into a flourishing market. Trulieve, a Florida-based cannabis company, has invested $40 million to gather the necessary signatures to put recreational marijuana on the November ballot. Other cannabis firms have also raised $15 million for this initiative.

Given Florida's rapidly growing population and thriving tourism industry, legalizing marijuana could bring substantial economic benefits, although the decision on taxing the product would be up to the state legislature.

Idaho What's on the Idaho ballot? Idaho currently has some of the strictest laws prohibiting all forms of marijuana use, including for medical purposes. Kind Idaho, a political action committee, has been working to change this by collecting signatures for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Initiative. This initiative aims to provide medical marijuana to individuals with chronic illnesses or terminal conditions and protect their caregivers from prosecution.

Will it pass? The Idaho Medical Marijuana Initiative is not yet on the ballot. Kind Idaho is still gathering signatures and needs to submit a total of 62,896 signatures by May 1 to appear on the November ballot. A 2022 poll by the Idaho Statesman showed that 68% of respondents support decriminalizing cannabis for medical purposes, indicating a good chance of passage if the initiative makes it to the ballot.

Nebraska What's on the Nebraska ballot? Both medical and recreational cannabis are illegal in Nebraska. Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, a ballot committee, is working to qualify two medical cannabis initiatives for the November election. The first initiative, The Patient Protection Act, aims to shield individuals with serious health conditions and their caregivers from arrest for using medical cannabis as recommended by a healthcare provider. The second initiative, The Medical Cannabis Regulation Act, proposes establishing a commission to regulate private businesses providing medical marijuana to qualified patients.

Will they pass? As of March, the committee had collected at least 40,000 signatures for each ballot initiative out of the required 87,000, with a deadline of July 3 to submit petitions. Recent polling shows that 70% of Nebraskans support legalizing medical marijuana, providing hope for advocates if the initiatives make it to the November ballot.

South Dakota What's on the South Dakota ballot? The South Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative could appear on the November ballot if it gathers enough signatures. The deadline for submitting 17,509 signatures is May 7. This measure seeks to legalize the use, possession, and distribution of medical marijuana.

Will it pass? If the initiative appears on the ballot, it stands a good chance of passing. South Dakotans previously voted to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana in 2020, but the recreational legalization was later deemed unconstitutional, leaving only medical cannabis legal in the state. Currently, South Dakota has severe penalties for cannabis possession.

The United States' varied marijuana laws can be perplexing. It's advisable to check the current status of legalization in your state.

Reading next

Massachusetts Council Approves Governor's Sweeping Marijuana Pardons
Legal Status of Marijuana in 2024: State and International Perspectives

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.