Yesterday, voters in Oklahoma approved a ballot measure (State Question 788) to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Oklahoma will become the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana, while nine states as well as Washington, D.C., have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. So far, two marijuana legalization efforts have qualified for the November 2018 ballot. Utah voters will decide whether to join Oklahoma and 29 other states in legalization medical marijuana, and Michigan voters will decide whether to join the nine states that currently legalize marijuana for recreational use. Efforts to place marijuana legalizations on the November ballot are still ongoing in several states.
Ballot Measures a Key Drive
About half of medical marijuana laws and all but one of the nine recreational legalization measures were passed via voter initiated ballot measures. Beginning in 2012 (Colorado & Washington), recreational legalization ballot measure passage has increased in each even-numbered election year: three in 2014 (Oregon, Alaska, & Washington, D.C.) and four in 2016 (California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine).
Legal Issues Abound
As marijuana legalization proliferates, the haze of unanswered questions thickens. Employers have voiced concerns over liability and drug screening policies. Businesses have sought to ensure that the laws clearly allow them to maintain safe and productive workplaces. The federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 Drug, raising federalism conflicts over banking and law enforcement. The safety of products that integrate cannabis into candy or baked goods, known as “edibles” is a rising concern, especially because of their attractiveness to children. Lawmakers are unable to foresee and respond to all of these questions while drafting initial legislation, meaning future legislators and the courts will be grappling with answering them for many years.