Political committees concerned with marijuana law reform in four states have waged an information war over the past year, first to qualify cannabis initiatives for the ballot, and then to support or oppose those measures in the lead-up to last week’s midterm elections. In total, over $12.9 million in cash and in-kind services was spent attempting to convince voters about these marijuana ballot measures.
Now that voters have had their say, Marijuana Moment decided to calculate how much each “yes” and “no” vote cost the committees on either side of the debate. Our calculations are based on dollars raised and disclosed before the election, since final totals of actual expenditures won’t be available until December or January reports required in the states that voted on cannabis.
In Michigan, where voters approved marijuana legalization, our calculations show that the two anti-legalization committees spent about $1.28 per “no” vote, as they raised $2.37 million for the 1.85 million votes against the measure. The proponents spent 19 percent more per vote, or $1.52 for each of 2.35 million “yes” votes.
In Missouri, three separate medical cannabis initiatives competed in the run-up to Election Day, resulting in the highest funding levels of the four states we looked at. There, committees raised a total of $5.4 million dollars to influence voters. Across all the committees, the average cost per “yes” vote was $1.82.
Amendment 3, which was supported by Find the Cures PAC, spent $2.91 for each of its 747,977 votes. Proposition C, supported by Missourians for Patient Care, spent $1.44 for each of its 1.03 million votes. New Approach Missouri, which supported winning Amendment 2, which garnered the support of 1.57 million voters, spent the least, at $1.10 per vote. Only Amendment 2 received a majority and was approved.
Given that there were three competing measures on the ballot, vote costs cannot be parsed in the same binary “yes” or “no” on marijuana reform that is possible for initiatives in the other states. A “no” vote for one measure in Missouri was often paired with a “yes” vote for another.
In North Dakota, there were many fewer votes cast on the state’s marijuana legalization initiative as compared to cannabis measure elsewhere, a total of 324,550. The two committees that opposed Measure 3 heavily outspent the pro-reform committees, to the tune of $629,648 to $94,308. With 131,585 people voting for the initiative, the cost per “yes” vote was 72 cents. On the opposing side, winning came at a high price: Each “no” vote cost four and a half times as much, or $3.26, the most costly per-vote expense on a marijuana ballot measure in the nation this year.
In Utah, a relatively state where proponents of medical cannabis measure Proposition 2 were narrowly outspent by opponents, the cost per vote was higher. Votes are still being counted more than a week after Election Day, but preliminary vote totals show opponents spent $908,464, or $1.99 for each of the 455,879 votes against the initiative. The prevailing “yes” committees spent $831,471 for 493,060 votes, or $1.69 each. About 8 percent of precincts are yet to be counted, so both of these figures will decrease as more votes are added to both the support and opposition tallies.
Overall in the three states that had a straight up-or-down vote (Michigan, Utah and North Dakota), the average cost per “no” vote was slightly more than each “yes” vote, with prohibitionist committees spending an average of $1.56 for each “no” vote, versus $1.51 spent on average for each “yes” votes. It should be noted that those costs include millions of dollars in in-kind services. In Michigan, for example, The Coalition to Regulate Cannabis like Alcohol reported $706,900 in in-kind services, or 23 percent of their total fundraising.
Looked at another way, the average per state cost (rather than total votes average) for “yes” votes was $1.31 while “no” votes cost 67 percent more: $2.18. And with the total number of “yes” votes in those states outnumbering “no” votes by 19 percent, it would seem that in the state-by-state marijuana legalization battle, you don’t always get what you pay for.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Here’s How Much Legal Marijuana Supporters And Opponents Spent Per Vote In Last Week’s Election
You’ve probably heard that marijuana legalization is on the ballot in several states in November. But if you haven’t heard—and you live in one of those states—you might soon be receiving a call from a volunteer with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).
The national advocacy group recently launched a “legalization phone bank” to help get out the vote ahead of the midterm elections. Volunteers can use a tool on the group’s website to register to call voters in Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah and make sure they know that cannabis reform is on the ballot.
To help callers get started, SSDP provided scripts and links to other reference material for each of the four states. A call to North Dakota, which has a full cannabis legalization initiative on the ballot, might sound like this, for example:
1. Hi, is this (voter)?
My name is (caller), and I’m a volunteer with Students for Sensible Drug Policy. In this election, you’ll have the chance to vote on Measure 3, which would make marijuana legal for people 21 and older.
[Yes] – [proceed to #2]
[No] – Are you a North Dakota resident eligible to vote?
[No] – If you’ve been a resident of your precinct since October 6 and have a North Dakota driver’s license or ID card, you can vote! Marijuana prohibition is an unjust policy that criminalizes people who use marijuana, wastes taxpayer dollars on incarceration, and does nothing to keep marijuana out of the hands of people under 21. I hope you’ll consider it, and thanks for your time. [end conversation]
[Yes] – Great! [proceed to #2]
2. Do you plan to vote for Measure 3?
[Plan to vote against/undecided] – OK. I hope you’ll consider that marijuana prohibition is an unjust policy that criminalizes people who use marijuana, wastes taxpayer dollars on incarceration, and does nothing to keep marijuana out of the hands of people under 21. Thanks for your time. [end conversation]
[Plans to vote for M3] – Great! Thank you for the support. Do you plan to vote in person or with an absentee ballot?
[Already voted] – Terrific, thanks for being an active citizen who votes! Please be sure to let all your friends know that ending marijuana prohibition will restore justice and improve the economy in North Dakota. [end conversation]
[Voting in person] – Great! Many counties have early voting. Do you have a plan to vote and a time of day when you’re going to head to the polls?
Do you know the location of your polling station?
(Help create a plan. Go to vote.org to find the polling location.)
Be sure to bring your ID (requirements), get there by 8pm sharp, and let all your friends know that ending marijuana prohibition will restore justice and improve the economy in North Dakota [end conversation]
[Voting by mail] – Have you sent your ballot in yet?
[No] – If you haven’t mailed your ballot yet, you should consider mailing it as soon as possible. It has to arrive at the county clerk’s office by election day. [end conversation]
[Yes] – Terrific, thanks for being an active citizen who votes! Please be sure to let all your friends know that ending marijuana prohibition will restore justice and improve the economy in North Dakota. [end conversation]
The organization also provides suggested scripts for leaving voicemails for voters who don’t answer the phone.
As of Wednesday, volunteers had made nearly 3,500 calls, according to the SSDP website.
Betty Aldworth, executive director of SSDP, told Marijuana Moment that the group’s phone banking efforts have provided critical support to previous legalization initiatives in 2012, 2014 and 2016, with volunteers “logging well over 100,000 calls and making a crucial difference in the tightest races, like North Dakota is this year.”
“Phone banking is one of the most effective tools we have to increase voter turnout, so we hope to call more than 40,000 of them,” Aldworth said. “The young people we turn out this election will be the ones who make the difference between ending prohibition or continuing on with the destructive, racist policies which have impeded medical advances, economic opportunity, and liberty for nearly a century.”
Advocacy Groups Push Colorado To Make Legal Marijuana Market More Equitable
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Young Advocates Launch Marijuana Legalization Phone Bank To Get Out The Vote
Oklahoma’s medical cannabis efforts have reached a major milestone after a thwarted attempt that had advocates starting from scratch.
State Question 788 will appear on Oklahoma’s 2018 ballot. If it should pass, patients will be allowed to possess medical cannabis legally once they receive a state-issued ID. The Oklahoma Secretary of State certified the language of the ballot last week.
The push for legalized medical cannabis was led by Oklahomans For Health, which gathered the signatures needed to make State Question 788 a reality. However, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt rewrote the question last fall, which significantly changed the details of the question. “Whether it’s the folks that signed this initiative petition or all of the voters who will ultimately have the chance to weigh in on whether or not Oklahoma will have medical marijuana, they should be able to do that without the attorney general injecting his personal political position into the ballot campaign by misrepresenting what the petitioners seek to accomplish,” said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has twice rejected revised language to the question. After Scott Pruitt joined the Trump Administration to run the Environmental Protection Agency, his successor Mike Hunter was disappointed by the court’s decision. “The ballot title was reviewed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the Court opted to substitute the original ballot title language,” said Hunter. “We disagree with that result, but respect the decision of the state’s highest court.”
What would legal medical marijuana look like in Oklahoma?
If State Question 788 passes, a state board would be established to license all aspects of a medical cannabis program, including cultivation, sales, and patient registration. Compared to other states with strictly-controlled programs, State Question 788 includes no qualifying conditions, and only requires the recommendation of a physician in order for patients to legally acquire medical cannabis. It also includes a brief but notable mandate that “no physician may be unduly stigmatized or harassed for signing a medical marijuana license application.”
788 would also decriminalize the possession of 1.5 ounces of cannabis or less for “persons who can state a medical condition, but not in possession of a state issued medical marijuana license…” The penalty would be limited to a $400 fine and a misdemeanor charge.
Unlike state medical marijuana programs that limit the amount of growers, 788 would set forth a specific criteria for commercial growers. As long as they meet the criteria, which includes residency requirements, they will be awarded a license and are able to grow cannabis without any limit on the number of plants.
Should this measure pass as written, it would be one of the most accessible medical marijuana programs among conservative states. In the 2016 election, 65.3 percent of voters picked Donald Trump, and local elections were comprised of Republican victories. Historically, cannabis legalization has been driven by liberal activists. But support for legalizing cannabis has skyrocketed over the last two decades, having gone from roughly 30 percent in favor in 2000 to 60 percent in favor as of 2016. This change has not phased GOP leaders nor members of the Trump Administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been clear on his position regarding cannabis, and recently indicated in an op-ed piece that he plans to reignite the failed “war on drugs.”
Arkansas will have a chance to become America’s first truly Southern state with medical cannabis come this election.
The Arkansas secretary of state’s office announced today that 77,516 of the Arkansans for Compassionate Care (ACC) initiative’s signatures collected qualified as valid signatures. Thus, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act (AMCA), which legalizes medical marijuana dispensaries and allows for home growing, will appear on Arkansas’ ballot come November.
The AMCA would make medical marijuana available to those with chronic and severe illnesses like cancer, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, Chron’s disease, lupus, autism, and Parkinson’s disease. While the bill’s restrictive nature wouldn’t create a full-fledged medical marijuana industry, the AMCA would provide safe access to Arkansas’ patients with the most dire need for medicine.
A competing, more prohibitive measure (the AMMA) that does not allow home growing is expected to submit its signatures for state approval any day. Should that bill also make the ballot, state supporters are concerned the two competing measures will cause both to ultimately fail.
The AMCA constituency has asked the AMMA to drop its proposal so one bill could pass. Sadly, the AMMA appears intent on submitting its signatures and making the ballot–which will spell doom for Arkansas’ patients in need of safe access.
Still, should Arkansas’ voters approve the measure, Arkansas would become America’s 26th or 27th medical marijuana state, depending on your definition of Louisiana’s unrecognized medical marijuana program. However, that number could easily jump to 28 or 29 this fall as Florida and Missouri also have similar medical marijuana measures that voters will decide the fate of this fall.