Since 2012, when Colorado became the first state to completely legalize cannabis, the United States has been caught up in a whirlwind of red tape and continuously changing cannabis legislation.
Prior to November’s election, 19 states and D.C. had legalized recreational cannabis. Attempting to join the ranks earlier this year were Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Here’s what you need to know about cannabis legislation changes by state after the 2022 Midterm Elections:
Arkansas’ Issue 4 was placed on the November ballot in an attempt to legalize recreational adult-use throughout the state. Issue 4 was met with resistance led by groups such as the Arkansas Family Council Action Committee, which encouraged Arkansians to vote no.
These efforts proved to be efficacious, and Issue 4 failed on November 9, 2022.
Issue 4 would have legalized the possession of one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and over. Additionally, those who chose to grow their own cannabis would have been permitted to grow up to three cannabis plants for personal use.
Recreational cannabis use remains illegal in the red state of Arkansas.
Prior to voting, Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Paul Armentano, was quoted stating that, “Statewide polling had consistently shown that a supermajority of the Marlyanders support legalizing cannabis.”
It came as no surprise that when it came to Question 4, the answer from Maryland was a vehement yes.
Question 4 on the ballot passed, permitting recreational adult-use of cannabis in the state of Maryland. Question 4’s passing also led to a ripple of other cannabis-related legislation changes.
Among those changes were a new bill to expunge convictions for actions that became legal under Question 4’s passing and the removal of criminal penalties for possession of 2.5 ounces or less of cannabis.
The implementation of the passing referendum is set for July 1, 2023.
At that time, adults over the age of 21 in the state of Maryland will be able to legally purchase and possess 1.5 ounces of marijuana. Those who choose may also grow up to two cannabis plants for personal use.
In the meanwhile, it is important for citizens to note that cannabis possession will become a civil offense as of January 1, 2023. Between January and July, possession of small amounts of cannabis will be punishable by a $100 fine for up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, or a $250 fine for between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces.
On the ballot for Missouri voters was Amendment 3. This amendment calls for the legalization of the purchase, possession, and consumption of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over, while also prohibiting discrimination towards medical cannabis use.
This means that employers based in Missouri cannot discriminate during hiring or termination processes, or any other condition of employment, based on an individual’s status as a medical marijuana patient.
Additionally, Amendment 3 would also allow individuals with eligible cannabis-related charges to petition for early release from prison or parole, and have their records expunged.
On November 9, 2022, Missouri voters passed Amendment 3, which became effective on December 8, 2022.
Missouri municipalities continue to hold the power to prohibit recreational marijuana use through public vote.
Measure 2 on the North Dakota ballot would have legalized up to one ounce of cannabis for adults over 21 to use recreationally, as well as allowing for individuals to grow up to three plants in their homes. These measures would have been effective by October 1, 2023.
Measure 2 also would have allowed for the Department of Health and Human Services to license seven cultivation facilities and eighteen cannabis retailers, or dispensaries.
Unfortunately, Measure 2 failed on November 9, 2022 after 55% of North Dakota voters responded, “no” to the proposed amendment.
Measure 27 in South Dakota motioned to legalize the use, possession, and distribution of recreational cannabis by adults 21 and over.
Measure 27 was designed so that an individual could own up to three marijuana plants so long as the individual lived in a jurisdiction where there was not a licensed cannabis retailer. It should be noted that the initiative would have also required that marijuana plants be kept in a locked space and out of public view.
Although the majority of South Dakota voters approved of recreational cannabis legalization in 2020, 52.9% of South Dakota voters said, “no” to Measure 27 in November 2022.
Recreational cannabis use remains illegal in the state of South Dakota.
The Outlook on Recreational Cannabis in the U.S.
Since the beginning of his presidency, Biden has pardoned more than 6,500 individuals with cannabis possession charges. With Oregon being the latest state to follow Biden’s lead in pardoning marijuana possession charges, he continues to urge other states to do the same.
Marijuana classification as a Schedule 1 substance, the same category as heroin, is also undergoing review. President Biden says that this cannabis classification simply, “…makes no sense.”
Despite its many obstacles, the future of recreational cannabis appears to be hopeful for the United States.
What This Means for Our Valued Partners
Although cannabis is widely accepted as a legal product in many states with valid medical use, cannabis is still federally illegal.
Cannabis dispensary owners are faced with business challenges unlike any other industry due to constantly changing regulations, like the ones listed above. So, many of you may be wondering how these changes in legislation will affect your cannabis dispensaries and your own customers.
Rest assured that Stemless has you covered.
To ensure your business remains compliant in this ever-changing market, Stemless has partnered with cannabis industry technology companies like Flowhub POS, GreenTill, & Treez POS who all offer dispensary-specific POS platforms with built-in compliance technology like Metrc.
Calling All Marijuana Masters in Maryland & Missouri
Now that the people have spoken and recreational cannabis has been legalized for adults over the age of 21 in both Missouri and Maryland, the time to open dispensary doors is upon us.
With that being said, it is critical to know that any successful dispensary owner will make investments in their business’s marketing strategy for customer retention.
At Stemless, we provide dispensary owners with the right combination of highly-personalized text message marketing campaigns and customizable loyalty programs to help your business succeed. And we don’t mean just at the beginning; we’re in it to win it for the long run.
Ready to serve the masses? Whether it’s digital marketing, email marketing, or just being smarter with your customers’ phone numbers, Stemless can help you leverage what you’ve got to get your small business off the ground. Start by setting your cannabis dispensary marketing for success from the get-go.
See how it works with our effortless pos software or other inventory management integrations today!