The NCSL Blog


By Emily Heller

Two of the hotter topics lighting up ballots this November are marijuana and tobacco—in fact, marijuana is on more state ballots this year than any other issue.

marijuana leafVoters in 11 states are preparing to cast their ballots on measures legalizing recreational or medical marijuana use, or increasing tobacco taxes.


Five states—Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevadahave ballot measures to legalize and regulate adult recreational use. If passed, these states will join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia, which allow legal recreational marijuana use.

In addition, four states have ballot measures related to medical marijuana this election cycle. The measures would legalize medical marijuana use for people with debilitating medical conditions in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota, and expand access to medical marijuana in Montana (legalized in 2004). Currently 25 states, the District of Columbia and Guam have legalized medical marijuana, and an additional 17 states allow medical use of low-THC products.

Tobacco Tax

Voters in four statesCalifornia, Colorado, Missouri and North Dakotawill consider tobacco tax increases this year.

In Missouri, for example, two competing tobacco tax measures made the ballot. Constitutional Amendment 3 aims to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 60 cents to 77 cents by 2020, as well as add a wholesaler fee of 67 cents per pack. These funds will be deposited in an Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund established by the amendment.

Missouri Proposition A, on the other hand, would increase taxes on cigarettes by 23 cents to 40 cents per pack by 2021 and create a 5 percent sales tax on noncigarette tobacco products. Tax funds collected under Proposition A will be used for transportation infrastructure projects. Proposition A would increase the tobacco tax through statute, while Amendment 3 would raise the tax through an amendment to the state constitution. If both ballot initiatives pass, the one with the most votes will supersede the other. As of January 2016, the  median state tax on a pack of cigarettes is $1.53.

Check out yesterday's blog on other health ballot measures under consideration this year. To learn more about the key issues facing voters this fall please visit NCSL’s Ballot Measures database.

Emily Heller is a research analyst in NCSL's Health program.

Email Emily

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.