By: Ganja Goddess
President Trump is pulling out all the stops in his ongoing efforts to suppress the liberal vote in the run up to the presidential election. Despite widespread criticism for apparent attempts to disrupt mail-in and early voting, President Trump recently doubled down on his suppression-adjacent tactics, urging Republican governors not to place cannabis legalization initiatives on state ballots. He cited increased Democratic voter turnout in elections as the main reason to avoid cannabis on the ballot.
In the middle of a campaign speech, in one of his signature asides, Trump suggested that marijuana reform efforts were to blame for former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s (R) loss in the 2018 election. He addressed Walker, who was in the crowd, stating that Walker might have been the state’s current governor had pesky cannabis not gotten in the way.
“The next time you run, please don’t put marijuana on the ballot at the same time you’re running,” Trump said to the former candidate. “You bought out like a million people that nobody ever knew were coming out.” Walker lost to current governor Tony Evers (D), who supported decriminalizing marijuana, while Walker called cannabis a gateway drug. Trump does not support ending cannabis prohibition and rarely weighs in on cannabis policy if not asked. He has, however, voiced support for allowing states to make the decision, just not at the expense of his preferred candidates.
Trump may be worried that voters who support cannabis legalization will have a negative impact on his bid for re-election, and it’s possible that he is correct. Cannabis measures are up in several states during the November election. Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, and New Jersey are all eyeing adult use cannabis legalization, while Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, and South Dakota also have proposed ballot measures that would establish a medical cannabis program.
It bears stating that gubernatorial candidates do not put measures on ballots. Twenty four states have an initiative process that allows citizens to bypass their state legislature to place proposed statutes and, in some cases, constitutional amendments, direct on the ballot without having the measure passed by the state legislature. Citizens can introduce a new law or constitutional amendment through a petition process or can demand a popular referendum in which they can demand a popular vote on a new law that has been passed by the state legislature.
There are two ways to add legislative proposals to the ballot. Either by initiative which can be direct or indirect, or by popular referendum. Direct initiatives allow proposals that qualify to be added directly on the ballot. Indirect initiatives allow proposals to be submitted to the legislature for an opportunity to act on the proposed measure. A popular referendum is a process by which voters can demand a popular vote on a specific issue. Of the states with cannabis measures expected to appear on the ballot in November; Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska allowing a direct initiative or a popular referendum. New Jersey and Mississippi do not allow measures on the ballot without legislative consideration. In any case, people running for governor do not have any control on whether a specific measure appears on the state ballot.