Breakdown of 2020 Ballot Campaigns

In the elections this November, voters in South Dakota, Montana, Arizona, and New Jersey will be voting on measures that would legalize and commercialize adult-use marijuana, and voters in Nebraska will be voting on a measure to legalize “medical marijuana.”

South Dakota 

The ballot measure in South Dakota is certainly unique. As it stands, there are no forms of marijuana legal in South Dakota. Large amounts of out-of-state money from the Marijuana Policy Project and the New Approach PAC, two groups who also helped draft the measure and get it on the ballot, are backing this effort. 

Marijuana legalization in South Dakota would devastate the workforce, put young people at risk, increase the risk of fatal car crashes due to more impaired drivers on the road. 

A coalition comprised of the Association of General Contractors, the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, the South Dakota Association of Cooperatives, the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the South Dakota Farm Bureau, and the South Dakota Retailers Association are leading the fight against this measure. 

Montana

Massive, marijuana industry interests have also poured resources into two ballot measures in Montana. 

The first would create a “legal” commercial marijuana industry and set the age of consumption at 21. Of course, this means little — as black markets continue to thrive in states with legal markets and young people in states like Oregon and Colorado have reported very easy access to marijuana. A recent survey found that one in five teens in Colorado reported getting marijuana from adults. Furthermore, marijuana use can still negatively impact the human brain at this age, as it is continuing to develop until the age of 25. 

The second ballot measure seeks to amend the state’s constitution, which currently states that an individual is to be considered an adult at the age of 18. If this initiative fails to pass, it is unclear how the state would have to proceed. 

Interestingly, the website by the campaign in support of this effort in Montana claims that legalization hasn’t resulted in increased youth use, increases in drugged driving, or crime in ‘legal’ states. The facts show this to be a bald-faced lie. 

Arizona 

Arizonans overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure seeking to legalize marijuana in 2016, but the marijuana industry has returned to the Grand Canyon State for another try. 

Prop 207 would be a disaster, as it would greatly limit law enforcement’s ability to prosecute offenders who operate vehicles while under the influence of marijuana. Furthermore, the supporters of Proposition 207 claim their intent is to legalize marijuana only for those 21 and older. Yet the text of the ballot measure would drastically reduce penalties for underage use and possession. In fact, the penalties the measure prescribes are far less severe than penalties for underage possession of alcohol.

Furthermore, Prop 207 would greatly benefit the existing marijuana industry insiders who actually helped draft the measure. As it stands, existing medical marijuana retailers would get the first licenses in the state

A coalition of public health organizations, doctors, and former & current government officials are opposing the initiative. 

New Jersey

Thanks to the efforts of SAM Action and our affiliate, New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (NJ-RAMP), the pot industry and its supporters in the State Senate were unable to ram through a commercialization bill. Now, they have put it on the ballot and have even held up a vote on a decriminalization and expungement bill to ensure that their legalization push is not upended once people realize that their true goal is profits for Big Pot. 

Marijuana legalization in New Jersey would be a huge mistake. It would greatly exacerbate current issues of social inequity, make the state’s already dangerous roads much more unsafe, and would expand the many failures of marijuana regulation to one of the most densely populated states in the nation. 

Opposition to the ballot measure is being led by a coalition of medical doctors, employers, treatment providers, drug prevention professionals, business owners, employees, law enforcement officers, and parents known as “No Pot NJ.”

Nebraska

Finally, Nebraskans will be voting on a measure to legalize “medical” marijuana in the state. 

Efforts to legalize “medical” marijuana are nothing more than a Trojan horse for the overall legalization and commercialization movement. The former director of NORML, Richard Cowan said, “… once there’s medical access, if we continue to do what we have to do… then we’ll get full legalization.” Many licensed marijuana companies in medical states are also licensed to sell recreational marijuana in states where it is fully “legal,” giving these companies a hand in both markets. 

Furthermore, by almost all metrics, marijuana cannot be truly considered “medicine.” While some specific derivatives of the plant have shown potential to treat rare forms of epilepsy, marijuana itself has not been shown to be effective at treating or alleviating any other illness, ailment, or disorder. The marijuana industry relies on shoddy research and purely anecdotal evidence to back up its claims. 

A recent study even found that 95% of marijuana products found in “medical” marijuana states contain levels of THC considered to be far above the levels considered even somewhat useful in helping with chronic pain — the most commonly used reason to obtain a “medical” marijuana recommendation. 

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