Election 2022: Marijuana legalization voting guide

Published on May 23, 2022 · Last updated September 22, 2022
In most states legalization has been led by voter initiatives, not by elected politicians.

Every two years, more states elect to legalize cannabis via statewide ballot measures. These measures are so overwhelmingly popular that they rarely fail when put before the voters.

The challenge lies in getting them on the ballot, often in the face of intense opposition from local elected leaders. That’s the tough task for many advocates in the spring and summer of 2022.

This year seven states could have adult-use or medical legalization on the November 8 ballot—and we’ll track them every step of the way.

Many of these proposed initiatives saw overwhelming support among constituents during the signatures-gathering phase of the campaigns: In some instances they garnered twice the number of signatures required.

This summer, state officials will continue to verify the gathered signatures before giving the measures a green light to appear on November ballots…or not.

Read on to learn more about the status of each campaign.

Guide to 2022 cannabis legalization campaigns

StateMedical or adult useOn the Nov. ballot?Measure nameAdvocates
ArkansasAdult useYesArkansas Adult-Use Cannabis AmendmentResponsible Growth Arkansas
MarylandAdult useYesMaryland Marijuana Legalization Amendment
MissouriAdult useYesMissouri Marijuana Legalization InitiativeLegal Missouri 2022
NebraskaMedicalFailed (see article)Patient Protection Act and The Medical Cannabis Regulation ActNebraskans for Medical Marijuana, State Senator Anna Wishart (D), State Senator Adam Morfeld (D)
North DakotaAdult useYesNot yet officially namedNew Approach North Dakota
OklahomaAdult usePostponed to 2023-24SQ 820Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws
South DakotaAdult useYesSouth Dakota Marijuana Legalization InitiativeSouth Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws


Proposed measures: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

Five organizations initially filed to put adult-use initiatives on the 2022 ballot in Arkansas, but only one seems likely to succeed: Responsible Growth Arkansas.

The group is behind the Arkansas Adult-Use Cannabis Amendment, which would allow for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. It would not legalize homegrow. 

The campaign had until July 8 to collect 89,000 valid signatures in order to qualify for the November 8 ballot. They turned in twice that amount: 193,000 signatures.

On July 29, officials announced that the measure qualified for the ballot.

A separate organization, Arkansas True Grass, supported a different measure, the Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment of 2022. That amendment would allow adults to possess up to four ounces of marijuana, automatically expunge non-violent marijuana records, and allow adults to grow up to 12 plants at home.

Arkansas True Grass will probably not qualify for the 2022 ballot.

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Latest polling: According to a poll conducted this February, about 54% of Arkansas residents support adult-use legalization.


Proposed measure: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

The Maryland Marijuana Legalization Amendment has been certified and will appear on the November ballot.

The amendment legalizes marijuana possession for adults beginning July 1, 2023. Additionally, it requires lawmakers to implement a regulatory framework for the program, via separate legislation.

The Maryland legislature has already tackled the latter issue, via House Bill 837. If Maryland voters pass legalization in November, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has said he will sign the bill.

As Leafly has reported, HB 837 lays out a few basic guidelines for the program:

  • Adults would be able to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis.
  • Possession of 1.5 ounces to 2.5 ounces would be subject only to a fine, and not be considered a criminal offense.
  • Adults would be able to grow two cannabis plants at home.
  • The state would automatically expunge the records of individuals convicted of crimes considered legal by HB 837.
  • Individuals previously charged with intent to distribute can petition for expungement after serving three years of their sentence.

Latest polling: According to a Goucher College poll released this March, 62% of Maryland voters support legalization.

Maryland will vote on legal cannabis in November


Proposed measure: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

Recreational cannabis isn’t on the ballot directly in Minnesota this year, but the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) is pitching itself as the only viable path to legalization. Minnesota Republicans continue to stonewall legislation—which governor Tim Waltz (D) supports—in the state Senate.

And just like in 2020, this year the state GOP wants to confuse voters by entering bogus candidates as representatives of the Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party. Data shows that in 2020, this meddling siphoned enough votes away from DFL candidates to tip certain state senate seats for Republicans—which had the direct effect of killing a legalization bill in the spring of 2021.

Latest polling: Nothing yet; watch this space.

Did Minnesota’s marijuana legalization parties kill marijuana legalization?


Proposed measure: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

On August 9, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced that Legal Missouri’s adult-use legalization measure had qualified for the November ballot.

The campaign had been a real nail biter: Missouri requires a ballot measure campaign to gather a certain number of signatures in each congressional district. For a few weeks, it looked like Legal Missouri had missed the mark.

If passed, the constitutional amendment would permit retail sales, tax marijuana at 6% (with an additional local-option tax of 3%), create equity licenses, and automatically expunge the records of residents with nonviolent marijuana-related offenses. Adults could purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis.

Opponents of the bill say it would enable existing medical providers to monopolize the market.

Latest polling: Nothing yet; watch this space.


Proposed measure: Medical marijuana legalization

Current state status: Prohibition state

On August 22, Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen (R) announced that the state’s pair of medical marijuana initiatives failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the November 2022 ballot.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) needed to gather 87,000 valid signatures by July 7, 2022, for each of two initiatives: the Patient Protection Act, and the Medical Cannabis Regulation Act. Each measure fell short by about 10,000 signatures.

After the state’s GOP-led Supreme Court quashed a medical marijuana ballot initiative in 2020 on the grounds that it violated a single-subject law, NMM regrouped and have returned with a new campaign for 2022. 

The medical legalization campaign also encountered a huge financial setback in March 2022, when a major donor died. Without those funds, the campaign has been unable to hire paid petition gatherers.

NMM quickly announced that they will regroup for a yet another campaign in 2024.

Latest polling: According to NMM, roughly 80% of Nebraskans support legalizing medical marijuana

North Dakota

Proposed measure: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

On August 15, the North Dakota Secretary of State, Al Jaeger (R) approved an adult use measure to appear on the November ballot.

Even though New Approach North Dakota had less than three months to gather signatures to put their legalization measure on the November ballot, they nonetheless triumphed…and it wasn’t even close. The group needed to turn in 16,000 signatures—2% of the state’s population—but this July they submitted nearly 26,000.

The measure would ​​legalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, four grams of cannabis concentrate, and up to 500 milligrams of edibles. Adults could legally grow three plants at home. The state would be required to create a market of retailers, manufacturers, and enact testing and tracking procedures.

Latest polling: Nothing yet. Watch this space.


Proposed measures: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

Update: Oklahoma legalization vote postponed

On Sept. 21, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected a bid by the SQ 820 campaign to make the Nov. 8, 2022, statewide ballot.

Legalization advocates turned in enough signatures to make the ballot, but a contractor hired by the state to count the signatures did not meet the deadline for the Nov. 8 election.

SQ 820 will not appear on the Nov. 8 ballot, but will likely appear on a later statewide ballot in 2023 or 2024.

Read more about the court’s decision here.

The Backstory: In July 2022, Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws turned in 164,000 signatures to put State Question 820. on the November ballot. They need 95,000 valid signatures to qualify, and are currently awaiting a green light from state officials.

SQ 820 would put a 15% excise tax on all adult-use purchases, eliminate the state’s medical marijuana tax, and provide a pathway for individuals seeking expungement. 

Latest polling: Nothing yet; watch this space.

South Dakota

Proposed measures: Adult use legalization

Current state status: Medical state

On May 3, 2022, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) submitted the required signatures to put a new adult-use legalization initiative on the November 2022 ballot. 

On May 25, 2022, the South Dakota secretary of state certified the signatures and placed the initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Even though South Dakota voters passed legalization by healthy margins on the Nov. 2020 ballot, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) used taxpayer dollars to fund a lawsuit to overturn the vote. In Nov. 2021, the state Supreme Court sided with Noem and killed the approved measure.

The new initiative emphasizes civil liberties: It would legalize personal possession and limited home cultivation, and reduce related criminal penalties.

As in Nebraska, South Dakota legalization advocates face the opposition of a sitting governor and an organized opposition. The group NO Way on Amendment A opposed the measure in 2020, and is expected to show up again this fall.

Latest polling: Nothing yet; watch this space.

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Max Savage Levenson and Bruce Barcott
Max Savage Levenson and Bruce Barcott
Max Savage Levenson is Leafly's chief political correspondent covering the 2020 election. He's based in Missoula, Montana. Bruce Barcott is Leafly's senior editor for news and investigations.
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