Legalization measures fail in Arkansas and Dakotas, pass in Missouri and Maryland November 9, 2022 By Griffin Coop Recreational marijuana proposals in three states, including Arkansas, went down last night, while voters in Maryland and Missouri approved adult-use cannabis. With 97.3% of areas reporting, the Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment trailed 56.26% to 43.74%, according to the Arkansas secretary of state’s website. A quiet crowd of about 20 gathered at the Capital Hotel ballroom last night for a watch party sponsored by Responsible Growth Arkansas, the sponsor of the measure. The scene was subdued even early in the evening before the results began rolling in. The loss followed an expensive and laborious campaign in which Responsible Growth gathered more than 190,000 signatures, despite new regulations regarding the petitoning process that made it more difficult to gather signatures. Responsible Growth, which would go on to raise more than $13 million, met its biggest hurdle when the state Board of Election Commissioners voted unanimously not to certify the ballot title. The amendment’s sponsors appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the ballot title was sufficient and that the Board of Election Commissioners should not have a role in the ballot title approval process. The campaign was met with opposition from three ballot question committees and a national anti-legalization organization called Smart Approaches to Marijuana. Republican megadonors Ron Cameron of Arkansas and Richard Uihlein of Illinois contributed more than $2 million to the campaigns. Marijuana advocates Melissa Fults and David Couch aligned with conservative hardliner Jerry Cox to defeat the amendment as Cox went on a statewide speaking tour against the amendment. While Cox maintained his anti-marijuana position, Fults and Couch blasted the amendment as being too favorable to the existing medical marijuana industry. Missouri and Maryland vote to legalize Recreational marijuana measures in Missouri and Maryland passed last night, bumping the number of state’s allowing adults to legally use cannabis to 21. With 89% reporting, the Missouri legalization measure is leading 53.1% to 46.9%. A quick look at the results showed the measure appeared to be popular in the areas surrounding the major metropolitan areas of St. Louis and Kansas City as well as a few other counties, while rural areas opposed the measure. In addition to legalizing cannabis for adults, the measure will expunge arrest and conviction records for nonviolent marijuana offenses and will allow citizens to homegrow. The measure will require the state to issue at least as many recreational dispensary, processor and cultivator licenses as there are medical marijuana licenses in those categories. As of July, there were 191 dispensaries, 70 processors and 49 cultivators, according to Leafly. Good Day Farm, a major marijuana player in both Missouri and Arkansas, has a cultivation facility and operates numerous dispensaries in Missouri. Missouri’s existing medical marijuana industry contributed more than $7 million to the legalization campaign, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. With 82% reporting, the Maryland legalization measure is leading 65.5% to 35.5%. The measure requires the Maryland state legislature to set up a recreational cannabis industry as soon as July 1. The measure also allows homegrow and decriminalizes marijuana possession, according to the Baltimore Sun. Approval of adult-use cannabis will trigger some legislation passed in the 2022 session. That includes a transitional period between Jan. 1 and July 1 where some penalties related to cannabis possession would be lessened. People who possess up to an ounce and a half of cannabis can be fined $100 and criminal penalties for possession up to 2.5 ounces will be replaced with civil citations. The law change also will establish a process for expungement of past cannabis possession convictions. Dakotas defeat cannabis measures Both North Dakota and South Dakota defeated recreational marijuana measures Tuesday. In South Dakota, with 97% reporting, the measure trailed 52.9% to 47.1%. The measure follows a 2020 legalization ballot measure that passed with 54% before being struck down by a state court for not adhering to the rule that ballot measures should only address a single subject. South Dakota’s Argus Leader has the full story. With all precincts reporting in North Dakota, voters rejected adult-use cannabis 55% to 45%, according to the Bismarck Tribune. North Dakota previously attempted to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2018 but the measures failed 59% to 41%. Luke Niforatos, who led the Smart Approaches to Marijuana opposition campaign in Arkansas, led efforts to defeat the North Dakota measures this year and in 2018, according to the Bismarck Tribune. A group opposed to the measure said the marijuana industry would market the product in ways that increase addiction. The group maintained genetically modified marijuana has led to higher potency levels, which in turn make it more addictive — a tactic Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, alleged was “right out of the Big Tobacco playbook.” Niforatos was campaign manager of Healthy and Productive North Dakota’s effort to defeat a 2018 measure that would have legalized marijuana in the state for anyone over 21 and expunged previous marijuana convictions. Opponents argued that measure was poorly written and lacked rules and regulations. The measure failed with about 41% voting in favor and 59% voting against.