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Recently Adopted Cannabis Ballot Measures

A number of States have adopted ballot measures legalizing the recreational use of cannabis since the policy information on this website was updated. We have summarized these measures below for the benefit of researchers who wish to keep abreast of these developments. Links to each ballot measure are also included.


On November 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, which legalizes the recreational use of cannabis. When fully implemented, the law will permit persons 21 years of age and older to purchase and possess cannabis for personal use (up to one ounce of flower and up to eight grams of concentrate), and grow up to six cannabis plants.

The measure mandates strict control of the cultivation, processing, manufacture, distribution, testing and sale of nonmedical marijuana through a system of state licensing, regulation, and enforcement, the details of which will be developed in the period between passage and full implementation in January, 2018.

The initiative includes provisions designed to keep cannabis away from children, including, but not limited to, marketing restrictions, mandatory school buffer zones, mandatory child-resistant packaging, and mandatory warning labels.

Proposition 64 also mandates taxes on growing and selling cannabis, with all taxes to be placed in the Marijuana Tax Fund. This fund will be used for offsetting regulatory costs of the law, evaluating the effects of the law (e.g. studying driving while impaired by cannabis), and providing funds for youth programs, environmental programs, and vehicle safety programs.

Cities and counties in California will also be able to maintain local control of aspects of marijuana regulation, including enacting ordinances that ban marijuana-related businesses within their boundaries.

Various State agencies will play a part in regulating the new law: the California Department of Food and Agriculture will be responsible for licensing cultivators of cannabis; the Bureau of Marijuana Control will be responsible for regulating and licensing recreational cannabis businesses; and the California Department of Public Health will be responsible for regulating and licensing recreational cannabis manufacturers. The State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Pesticide Regulation will also have regulatory roles.


Voters in Maine passed Question 1 – the Marijuana Legalization Act – on November 8, 2016. The measure permits persons 21 years of age and older to possess up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana and to cultivate up to six mature plants for personal consumption.

Question 1 establishes licensing for the commercial production and retail sale of recreational cannabis. In particular, it mandates a system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product-manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities, and it creates rules governing the production, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana and marijuana-related products (e.g. testing, labeling, and packaging requirements). It also provides for the licensure of retail marijuana social clubs where retail marijuana products may be sold to consumers for consumption on the licensed premises.

The measure mandates use of child-resistant packages on products and mandates that a retail marijuana product may not contain an additive designed to make the product more appealing to children.

Question 1 allows municipalities to regulate the number of retail marijuana stores and the location and operation of those establishments. It also allows municipalities to require separate local licensing of retail marijuana establishments. Finally, a municipality will have the right to prohibit the operation of marijuana establishments and social clubs within its jurisdiction.

Retail sales of cannabis are to be subject to a ten percent sales tax, which will be used to implement and enforce regulations. Any remaining funds will be used by the legislature to benefit the citizens of Maine.

Regulation and control of the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of marijuana will be performed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The measure allows the Department to establish limitations on retail marijuana cultivation.

Question 1 calls for the development of regulations for licensing recreational marijuana dispensaries and marijuana social clubs within nine months of the effective date.



Massachusetts voters passed Question 4, The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, on November 8, 2016. The measure allows adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside of their residences and up to 10 ounces of marijuana in an enclosed, locked space within their residences. It also allows adults 21 years of age and older to grow up to six marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked space within their residences and possess the marijuana produced by those plants in the location where it was grown.

The measure mandates creation of a Cannabis Control Commission which will adopt regulations for the administration, clarification and enforcement of laws regulating and licensing marijuana establishments. The regulations will include: procedures for the issuance and renewal of licenses to operate marijuana establishments; a schedule of application; and license and renewal fees in an amount necessary to pay for all regulation and enforcement costs of the commission. The measure also requires development of regulations for businesses to test marijuana products and adhere to strict packaging and labeling guidelines, including the mandate for child-resistant packaging.

The measure gives cities and towns the right to regulate, limit, or prohibit the operation of marijuana establishments within their boundaries, and allows them to add a local tax up to 2%. Question 4 imposes a 3.75% state excise tax on marijuana sales on top of the 6.25% Massachusetts sales tax.

The ballot initiative clears a path for marijuana retail stores to open in the state as early as 2018.


In Nevada, Question 2, the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana, passed on November 8, 2016. The measure makes it lawful for a person 21 years of age or older to purchase and consume up to one ounce of marijuana or up to one-eighth of an ounce of concentrated marijuana. Adults will be able to purchase marijuana from licensed retail marijuana stores, and those who do not live within 25 miles of a retail marijuana store will be allowed grow up to six marijuana plants in an enclosed locked area. The measure does not permit marijuana to be used in public.

The Nevada Department of Taxation is tasked with creating a system of licensed marijuana retail stores, distributors, cultivation facilities, product manufacturers, testing facilities, and tracking of marijuana products. The Department is also required to establish business licensing procedures and requirements designed to keep cannabis away from children, including but not limited to mandatory school buffer zones and mandatory child-resistant packaging.

Under Question 2, local governments will have the ability to adopt and enforce local marijuana control measures pertaining to zoning and land use for marijuana establishments.

The measure regulates and taxes the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. It establishes a 15% excise tax on wholesale marijuana sales to be paid by licensed cultivators. The wholesale tax is separate from and in addition to any general state and local sales and use taxes that apply to retail sales of tangible personal property. The taxes and fees paid by licensed marijuana businesses will be used first to fund state and local implementation and enforcement of regulations. All remaining revenue will be deposited in the State Distributive School Account and used to support public K-12 education.

The measure directs Nevada's taxation office to implement regulations by the end of 2017 in preparation for a 2018 retail launch.

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