Drug Reform Measures on Tuesday's Ballot [FEATURE]

Although the questions of whether Donald Trump is driven out of office and whether the Democrats sweep to control of the Senate are dominating the discourse as we head toward Tuesday, there are other items for people to be voting on, too. Those include drug policy-related items in a half-dozen states and the nation's capital. And there's one bad initiative to reverse sentencing reforms.

As we prepare for a tumultuous Election Day, here's a brief review of them, and of what the polls say their prospects are:

Arizona -- Marijuana Legalization

Proposition 207: The Smart & Safe Arizona Actwould legalize marijuana for people 21 and over and allow for home grows of up to six plants. The state would regulate a legal marijuana market with a 16% tax on retail sales. Polling has been variable enough to make backer nervous, with several recent polls showing the measure in the mid-50s, but another recent poll putting it at 45.6%, with 34.2% opposed and 19% undecided. If that latter poll is accurate, Prop 207 needs at least a quarter of those undecideds to break in its favor.

ANTI-REFORM: California -- Sentencing Reform Rollback

The ballot title for Proposition 20, "Restricts Parole for Non-Violent Offenders. Authorizes Felony Sentences for Certain Offenses Currently Treated Only as Misdemeanors," pretty much says it all. The measure is an effort to roll back sentencing reforms by both the legislature (AB 109 in 201) and two voter-passed initiatives, Proposition 47 (2014), and Proposition 57 (2016). All of those measures were designed to reduce the state's prison population; this one would increase it at a cost of tens of millions of dollars a year. A late September Survey USA poll had support for Prop 20 at 35%, with 23% opposed and 43% undecided.

Mississippi -- Medical Marijuana

Mississippians for Compassionate Care placed Initiative 65 on the ballot as a full-fledged medical marijuana measure, prompting the state legislature to propose its own watered-down version, , which, among other things, limits smoking medical marijuana to terminally ill patients. An had support for medical marijuana at a whopping 81%, and voters preferring Initiative 65 (52%) over Initiative 65A (23%).

Montana -- Marijuana Legalization

Constitutional Initiative 118 and Initiative 190 are complementary marijuana legalization initiatives. I-190 is a statutory initiative that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults 21 and over. CI-118 is a constitutional initiative that would allow I-190 to set the minimum age at 21. The initiatives are complementary and work together to establish a careful framework for legalizing marijuana in Montana. The latest polling has the initiative at 54%, trending up from earlier polls.

New Jersey -- Marijuana Legalization

Public Question 1 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana for people 21 and over and allow for system of regulated sales subject to the state sales tax of 6.625%. It leaves questions such as possession limits and whether to allow home grows up the legislature state regulators. Things are looking good in the Garden State: A series of Brach Eichler pollshas had the measure winning around two-thirds support, while a Fairleigh Dickinson poll released earlier this month had support at 61%.

Oregon -- Drug Decriminalization

The groundbreaking Measure 110 would decriminalize the possession of personal use amounts of all drugs and use revenues from legal marijuana sales to help fund expanded drug treatment. People caught with drugs could either pay a $100 fine or complete a health assessment. Distribution of such drugs would remain criminalized. There is no polling to point to, but the measure has lots of money and a bevy of endorsements, including the state Democratic Party.

Oregon -- Therapeutic Psilocybin

Measure 109, the Psilocybin Services Act, would create a program to allow the administration of psilocybin products, such as magic mushrooms, to adults 21 and over for therapeutic purposes. People would be allowed to buy, possess, and consume psilocybin at a psilocybin services center, but only after undergoing a preparation session and under the supervision of a psilocybin service facilitator. The only known poll is more than a year old and had it in a dead heat, with 47% support and 46% opposed.

South Dakota -- Medical Marijuana

The Measure 26 medical marijuana initiative would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to possess up to three ounces of marijuana and grow up to three plants. The initiative also establishes a state medical marijuana program with dispensaries, licensed cultivators, and testing operations. A late October poll has the measure winning handily with 74% in support.

South Dakota -- Marijuana Legalization

Constitutional Amendment A would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by people 21 and over and allow for the home cultivation of up to three plants in jurisdictions with no retail marijuana outlets. It also envisions a legal marijuana market with a sales tax of 15% and requires the state legislature to pass laws providing for medical marijuana and hemp by next spring. A late October pollhad the measure winning 51% to 44% with 5% undecided.

Washington, DC -- Natural Psychedelic De Facto Decriminalization

Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plant and Fungi Policy Act of 2020, would have police treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of natural plant medicines (entheogens) as their lowest law enforcement priority. The measure also asks the city's top prosecutor and its US Attorney to not prosecute such cases. It looks likely to win. The measure has been endorsed by the DC Democratic Party, and according to a September FM3 poll, when read the ballot language, 60 percent of likely voters supported it. That figure jumped to 64 percent when respondents were given a plain-language explanation of the measure. The initiative is also well-financed, with the New Approach PAC kicking in nearly half a million dollars. There are no registered opposition campaign committees.

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