The politics of compassion have overcome the politics of fear.
Tonight, Michigan became the thirteenth state to legalize the physician supervised possession and use of cannabis. According to early returns, more than 60 percent of Michigan voters decided in favor of Proposal 1, which establishes a state-regulated system regarding the use and cultivation of medical marijuana by qualified patients.
Voters endorsed the measure despite a high profile, deceptive, and despicable ad campaign by Prop. 1 opponents — who falsely claimed that the initiative would allow for the open sale of marijuana “in every neighborhood, just blocks from schools.” (In fact, Proposal 1 does not even allow for the creation of licensed cannabis dispensaries.)
Michigan’s new law goes into effect on December 4th, at which time nearly one-quarter of the US population will live in a state that authorizes the legal use of medical cannabis.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, some 65 percent of voters (and virtually every town) decided “yes” on Question 2, which reduces minor marijuana possession to a fine-only offense. Like in Michigan, voters rejected a high-profile, deceptive ad campaign by the measure’s opponents, who argued that it would increase adolescent drug abuse, permit large-scale marijuana trafficking, endanger workplace safety, and sharply increase traffic fatalities.
Question 2 is expected to become law in 30 days — making Massachusetts the thirteenth state to decriminalize the personal possession and use of cannabis. (Note: Under state law, politicians have the option of amending the new law.)
NORML celebrates both victories and recognizes that neither would have been possible without the grassroots efforts of Michigan and Massachusetts state activists — who laid the groundwork for both campaigns by successfully passing a series of similar, municipal initiatives over the past several years.
Wednesday Morning Update:
Victories in four pro-marijuana law reform measures in local elections were announced overnight:
Citizens in Fayetteville, Arkansas voted in favor of initiative question #16, which instructs city police to make the enforcement of minor marijuana offenses a low priority. The initiative passed with nearly 66 percent support.
Not too surprisingly the citizens of Berkeley, California voted again to affirm an initiative that ‘eliminate limits on the amount of medical marijuana patient or dispensary can possess’. Measure JJ passed with 61 percent support.
Hawaii County also passed a lowest police priority marijuana initiative.
Also, the Massachusetts PPQ results regarding medical marijuana, which readily passed as expected, are online here.
Unfortunately for reformers the Drug Policy Alliance-sponsored Prop. 5, which sought progressive criminal justice law reforms for non-violent offenders (and would have changed the legal status of a minor marijuana citation from a criminal to civil offense) did not prevail at the polls, losing with 40 percent support.
Once again, voters have rejected the Bush doctrine on drugs. They’ve rejected the lies put forward by drug warriors and law enforcement, and demonstrated — overwhelmingly — that truth, compassion, and first-hand experience are more persuasive than the deception and scare tactics of those who would take away our freedoms and confine us in cages.
In short, it is the cannabis community, not the Drug Czar, that is shaping America’s marijuana policy, and tonight we go to bed knowing that millions of Americans will wake up tomorrow with a better, brighter, and more tolerant future than they had today.
November 5, 2008