Marijuana, Minimum Wage on the Ballot Again This Year

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

October 19, 2020

This year, voters in five states will consider ballot initiatives that would legalize marijuana - whether for medical use (Mississippi), recreational use (Arizona, Montana and New Jersey) or both (South Dakota).

More than half of the states in the US already have legalized medical marijuana, while 11 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. The proliferation of these laws poses a number of challenges for employers, including preemployment drug testing, workplace policies and supervisor training.

Meanwhile, voters in Florida will decide whether to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 by 2026.

The various 2020 ballot measures enjoy the support of a plurality of voters, if not always a majority, in polls collected by the nonprofit, nonpartisan website Ballotpedia (except for those in South Dakota, for which no polls were available).

Arizona Recreational Marijuana

Arizona's Proposition 207, also known as the "Smart and Safe Arizona Act," would allow adults to possess, use and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It also would amend criminal penalties for marijuana possession; ban smoking marijuana in public; impose a 16% excise tax on marijuana sales to fund public programs; authorize state/local regulation of marijuana licensees; and allow expungement of marijuana offenses.

Mississippi Medical Marijuana

Mississippi's Initiative 65 would amend the state constitution to allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by Mississippi-licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana. Medical marijuana would be provided only by licensed treatment centers. The Mississippi State Department of Health would regulate and enforce the provisions of this amendment.

An alternative measure, Initiative 65A, would also establish a medical marijuana program, but with additional restrictions such as allowing only terminal patients to smoke marijuana, limiting the number of state-licensed medical marijuana manufacturers and allowing only pharmaceutical-quality marijuana.

Voters may vote for "either" or "neither" of these initiatives, and also choose which version they prefer. If there are more votes for "either" than for "neither," the version that is preferred by a majority of voters will be enacted as long as it is preferred on at least 40% of the ballots cast.

Montana Recreational Marijuana

Two marijuana initiatives are on the ballot in Montana.

The first, CI-118, also known as the "Allow for a Legal Age for Marijuana Amendment," would amend the state constitution to allow the legislature or the people by initiative to establish the legal age for purchasing, consuming, or possessing marijuana.

The second, I-190, also known as the "Marijuana Legalization Initiative," would legalize the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana for adults. The state would license and regulate the cultivation, transportation and sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products and inspect premises where marijuana is cultivated and sold.

New Jersey Recreational Marijuana

New Jersey's Public Question 1, also known as the "Marijuana Legalization Amendment," would legalize cannabis use for adults. The state legislature would enact laws granting the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (which was created in 2019 to oversee the state's medical cannabis program) authority to oversee the new adult cannabis market. Retail sales would be subject to the state sales tax and potentially local taxes as well.

South Dakota Recreational and Medical Marijuana

As in Montana, South Dakota also will be presenting voters with two separate marijuana ballot measures.

The first, Constitutional Amendment A, would amend the state constitution to legalize the possession, use, transport and distribution of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia by adults. Individuals would be allowed to possess or distribute one ounce or less of marijuana. Marijuana plants and marijuana produced from those plants may also be possessed under certain conditions. It also would authorize the state to regulate and tax marijuana, and require the state legislature to pass laws ensuring access to marijuana for medical use.

The second, Initiated Measure 26, would legalize the use, delivery, manufacture and - for state residents - cultivation of marijuana and marijuana-based products to treat or alleviate debilitating medical conditions certified by the patients' practitioners.

Florida Minimum Wage

Florida's Amendment 2 would increase the state minimum wage to $15.00 by 2026 according to the following schedule:

  • Sept. 30, 2021 - $10.00;
  • Sept. 30, 2022 - $11.00;
  • Sept. 30, 2023 - $12.00;
  • Sept. 30, 2024 - $13.00;
  • Sept. 30, 2025 - $14.00;
  • Sept. 30, 2026 - $15.00; and
  • Jan. 1, 2028, and every Jan. 1 thereafter - Adjusted for inflation.