Drug legalization enthusiasts may be in trouble after voters approved a proposed drug decriminalization program in Missouri.
Although legalization is quick for adults to obtain and inject the drug, it may take up to two months before they can buy it legally.
Maryland residents will have to wait a little longer – until the middle of next year – before the recreational drug measure takes effect this past week.
With the addition of Maryland and Missouri, 21 states have legalized the recreational drug for adults in the past decade — even though it remains illegal under federal law.
Marijuana advocates are moving forward with similar efforts elsewhere, unable to do so after last week’s defeats in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Attempts to legalize psychoactive drugs for personal use also appear to be spreading, after supporters poured millions of dollars into a Colorado measure that won approval.
Here’s a look at what’s next in the effort to reform federal drug laws.
Missouri and Maryland
The recreational drug will be legalized for adults 21 and older in Missouri on December 8. The same day the state’s medical facilities can apply for licenses to grow, manufacture, transport and selling drugs for recreational purposes.
But there is no immediate sale – even if it is illegal.
The newly approved legislative change will give the state health department until February 6 to consider proposals. Although officials will be able to process the process more quickly, the department is not expected to approve recreational drug licenses until February, said the department’s communications director, Lisa Cox.
Currently, people can get free marijuana from medical card holders or turn to the black market.
“No one has to say how or where they got their drug to be eligible,” said Dan Viets, Missouri coordinator for the drug policy group NORML.
Maryland’s new constitutional amendment legalizes the possession and use of marijuana for adults 21 and older on July 1, and directs the General Assembly to enact legislation to regulate it.
Currently, there is a law in place from January 1st through June 30th that makes possession of marijuana – limited to 1.5 ounces – a civil offense and a fine of up to $100.
Both states have measures to phase out some of the most common marijuana offenses for individuals.
Oklahoma and beyond
The next vote on legalizing recreational drugs for adults will take place in Oklahoma. Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt scheduled a March ballot after delays in counting campaign signatures and legal challenges prevented the measure from appearing on the November ballot.
Oklahoma has one of the nation’s largest pharmacy practice programs in the nation, with approximately 2,500 licensed pharmacists. About 380,000 people, about 10% of all residents, have a government medical card that allows them to buy, grow and consume marijuana.
After Oklahoma, Ohio could vote next on the legalization of marijuana. A group that sought to have a measure in the November election reached a legal settlement with legislative leaders that would allow supporters to submit petition signatures for the 2023 election.
After Democratic victories in last week’s legislative and gubernatorial elections, Minnesota could decide to legalize recreational drugs next year without going to the voters. Legalization of recreational marijuana could also be pursued next year in Democratic-led Hawaii, said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy group. in Washington, DC
New citizen ballot initiatives are possible in Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Wyoming and the three states that failed to vote.
This year is “the worst election cycle for drug reform since the first ones passed in 2012, but we still believe that we can win more states in 2024,” he said. Schweich, who ran the campaign this year in South Dakota.
Marijuana legalization campaigns raised about $24 million in the five states where they were on the ballot, according to pre-election financial reports. That’s mostly in Arkansas and Missouri, where more than 85% of the donations come from donors who are affiliated with pharmacy licensees, according to an Associated Press analysis.
In Arkansas, some marijuana advocates opposed the project because it benefited the current industry by making it impossible for people to grow their own marijuana and eliminate marijuana charges of before. But advocates hope to return to voters in two years with a revised plan.
“I think people still want to see this,” said Eddie Armstrong, chairman of the group that advocated for the Arkansas project.
Voters in Colorado became the second state, after Oregon, to legalize psychedelic drugs for use by people 21 and older.
Although the hallucinogenic drug is illegal under state law, it is not sold in Colorado stores and is available for supervised use in “rehab centers.” Residents can also grow psychedelic mushrooms at home and use them without civil or criminal penalties.
The program doesn’t take effect until 2024. By then, legalization efforts have already spread to other states.
The Colorado measure “is at the forefront of innovation,” said Mandy Zoch, who tracks voting practices at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more methods around things like psilocybin and other psychoactive drugs in the future.”
Laws in several states, including California and New Jersey, may consider psychotropic drugs by 2023, said Graham Boyd, executive director of the drug policy group New Approach. .
After spending more than $4 million on the Colorado campaign, New Approach hopes donors concerned about veterans and mental health issues will step forward with more money for the future projects.
“I think we’re starting a really promising time to expand options for mental health care. That’s what this is all about,” Boyd said.
Associated Press writers Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Ark., and Brian Witte in Annapolis, Md., contributed to this report.