After Marijuana Legalization Votes in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., What Does 2016 Hold?
Voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. have voted to approve sweeping pro-marijuana legalization, according to a CNN projection.
The three wins have pro-legalization activists enthused and many are already looking towards 2016, when ballot initiatives in states such as California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Arizona are likely to be put to voters.
In Oregon, the law legalizes personal possession, manufacture and sale of marijuana for people 21 years of age and older. Mimicking similar plans in Washington State and Colorado, the Oregon law will also create a commercial regulatory system for the production, distribution and sale of marijuana.
Alaska’s law is similar to Oregon and would tax and regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana, making the use legal for people over 21 years old
Washington, D.C.’s proposal, while scaled back compared to the others, allows for a person over 21 years old to posses up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use and grow up to six cannabis plants in their home. It also allows people to transfer up to one ounce of marijuana to another person, but not sell it.
The issue is not fully resolved for the District of Columbia, however. Because of its unique status as a district, not a state, Congress has the authority to overrule D.C. laws and some lawmakers have signaled that they would likely work to overrule the popular vote.
Pro-marijuana activists heralded the victories as “huge” on Tuesday.
“It’s always an uphill battle to win a marijuana legalization initiative in a year like this, when young people are so much less likely to vote, which makes today’s victory all the sweeter,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance said about Oregon. “The pace of reform is accelerating, other states are sure to follow, and even Congress is poised to wake from its slumber.”
Wins in Washington, D.C. also have activists hoping for federal recognition.
“With marijuana legal in the federal government’s backyard,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, “it’s going to be increasingly difficult for national politicians to continue ignoring the growing majority of voters who want to end prohibition.”
Not all news was positive, however, for marijuana activists on Tuesday, however.
Voters in Florida gave the thumbs down to medical marijuana in the the Sunshine State earlier in the night, according to a CNN projection.
The measure – which is one of many on ballots in 2014 – would have legalized the use of medical marijuana in Florida and would have tasked the state’s Department of Health with regulating it.
Marijuana has been a surging issue of late.
In 2013, according to Gallup, more Americans supported legalization than those who opposed it. Just 14 years earlier, those who opposed it had over a 2-to-1 advantage. A 2014 Pew Research poll found that 54% of Americans supported making marijuana legal.
Ever since voters in Colorado and Washington allowed the sale of legalized marijuana in 2014 (after voters decided to legalize years before), the push for more marijuana legalization has become a popular nationwide effort.
The laws in Oregon and Alaska are similar to what Colorado and Washington State passed and would allow recreational sale and taxation of the drug. Both votes are expected to be close, with polls mixed on the results.