Marijuana won big last night!
Oregon became the third state in the Union to legalize recreational marijuana on Tuesday, while Washington, DC residents will soon be allowed to grow and possess pot without fear of legal repercussions. As if that wasn’t enough, Alaskan voters approved Measure 2 early this morning, which legalizes the possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana in the state.
It’s 3am in Portland, Oregon, where the lingering excitement of becoming the third state to legalize marijuana is still in the cold, wet November air. It’s clear that the biggest momentum in the midterms isn’t the Republican takeover of the US Senate, but the embrace of marijuana law reform by the American people.
Legalization goes 3-for-3: Washington DC’s Initiative 71 to legalize the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana crushed all expectations, garnering 69.4 percent of the vote. Oregon’s Measure 91 passed with 54.2 percent of the vote, making the Pacific Northwest the first legal region of the country and the first shared legalization border in the world. Alaska’s Question 2 also passed with 52.1 percent of the vote and like Oregon, will legalize the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana as well as marijuana markets, taxed at $35/ounce in Oregon and $50/ounce in Alaska.
Medical marijuana gets two clear majorities, but only one win: Our day started out with the good news that the island territory of Guam, where the sun first rises on the United States, passed its medical marijuana Proposal 14A with 56.4 percent of the vote. Florida overwhelmingly voted for its medical marijuana Amendment 2. But Florida’s constitutional threshold of 60 percent was just too high a hurdle for a Southern state to clear, falling just short at 57.6 percent.
California reduces felonies, but really wants to tax medical marijuana: Proposition 47 in California defelonized many low-level crimes, such as possession of personal amounts of any drug. The proposition passed with 58.2 percent of the vote. At the city and county level, however, voters were voting to tax medical marijuana, and keep or enact dispensary bans and medical grow restrictions. Voters in Blythe rejected a tax, in Santa Ana they prohibited dispensary bans, and in Shasta County they repealed medical grow restrictions; otherwise, every other measure on the ballot did not go reformer’s way.
Colorado legalized, but now cities want to ban pot shops: Colorado localities fared no better than California. The towns of Red Cliff and Manitou Springs rejected bans on pot shops; all other cities voting on bans accepted them, including the Denver suburb of Lakewood. The towns of Ramah and Hot Sulphur Springs rejected pot taxes; all other cities voting on taxes approved them. Vexingly, the towns of Palisade and Paonia voted to both ban pot shops and tax them.
Michigan’s unbeaten streak ends. Cities in Michigan had gone 16-0 up until this election in passing charter amendments to decriminalize personal amounts of marijuana. Last night, Clare, Frankfort, Harrison, Lapeer, and Onaway became the first to reject such an amendment, with Lapeer’s rejection decided by six votes. Those cities all had less than 2,000 total votes, while the six larger cities of Berkley, Huntington Woods, Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Ridge, Port Huron, and Saginaw all supporting decrim.
New Mexico perfect on decrim; Maine splits legalization: The two largest counties in New Mexico voted overwhelmingly to decriminalize marijuana, with Bernalillo (Albuquerque) voting 59.5 percent and Sante Fe voting a whopping 73.1 percent in favor. In Maine, South Portland joined neighboring Portland’s legalization vote from a year ago, approving legalization of 2.5 ounces by a 52.4 percent vote, but smaller Lewiston rejected legalization with only 45.1 percent support.
Massachusetts sweeps fourteen pro-legalization policy questions: Eight districts in Massachusetts voted on non-binding Public Policy Questions that asked whether their state rep should vote to support tax and regulate policies for marijuana like alcohol. The results ranged from a low of 69 percent to a high of 74 percent. Six Massachusetts House districts went further by polling support for tax and regulate policies for marijuana like common fruits, vegetables, and herbs! Support ranged from a low of 54 percent to a high of 63 percent. That’s a perfect 14-0 in a midterm election where many of those voters were asked to treat marijuana like tomatoes.
Despite a loss in Florida for medical marijuana, the victories are a cause for celebration!