Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Despite the lore that only old, white, conservative people show up for midterm elections, and a very bad night for Democrats, marijuana advocates won a few fights tonight. (Get ready for even more in 2016.) There were various city-level measures and a winning medical effort in the U.S. territory of Guam, but here are the efforts that have had the national eye: Legalization measures are passing in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C, but a medical marijuana effort in Florida has failed.
Here's what that all means:
JOINING WASHINGTON AND COLORADO
Oregon's Measure 91 — passing with about 54 percent of the vote after early results — will allow adults to possess eight ounces of marijuana and grow up to four plants at home. (Here in Washington, we can have up to an ounce and home grows aren't allowed.) Tax revenue — levied only at the producer stage — will go toward schools, drug treatment and police. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will be tasked with rule-making and, unlike Washington, pot entrepreneurs can get in at all levels of the game by holding producer, processor and retail licenses. Voters there were split until the last minute, with a late October poll showing 44 percent for, 46 percent against and 7 percent undecided.
Alaska also voted on a full legalize-and-regulate measure that had the lead with 54 percent of the vote after the first returns. (Because of the time difference, these returns are more preliminary than the others.) There, Ballot Measure 2 will allow residents to have up to an ounce of usable pot and six plants. Taxes will be charged to growers when they sell to stores or processors; where the revenue will go is not specified in the measure. Rule-making will be done by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, but the state legislature could create a special marijuana regulatory board. Polls were close right up until the end in this Republican stronghold, and the pro camp was counting on a libertarian bent to tip things in their favor.
THE SYMBOLIC VOTE
Washington D.C.'s Initiative Measure #71 is a whole different (and very popular) beast than other states' efforts. It passed overwhelmingly, with nearly a 70-30 split. It will allow adults 21 and older to have up to two ounces of weed and grow up to six plants. Like the Washington Post details here, the nation's capital is a big symbolic win, but it's going to face potential congressional interference because that's how weird things get when you're a pseudo-state.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN THE SOUTH
Florida had the chance to become the 24th state to allow medical marijuana — and the first in the South to allow widespread medical use — but even though the measure won a majority, it didn't get the 60 percent the state required. Amendment 2 would have legalized medical marijuana in the state and charged the Department of Health with overseeing dispensaries and issuing ID cards to patients and caregivers. But the fight was muddied with big spending from the "no" camp and controversy over who would be able to be a caregiver.