The election results were overwhelmingly positive for marijuana smokers last night, with full-legalization proposals being approved in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia. And even the one losing initiative, the medical-use proposal in Florida, won the approval of a significant majority of the voters.
Measure 91 in Oregon
In a convincing victory, Oregon voters approved Measure 91, which legalizes the use and cultivation of marijuana by those 21 and older and establishes a system of licensing, taxing and regulating marijuana sales under the auspices of the Oregon Liquor Control Board, with an impressive 55 percent of the vote.
More specifically, under Measure 91, adults will be permitted to possess up to eight ounces of “dried” marijuana and cultivate up to four plants. And they will be allowed to give up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana products in liquid form, to other individuals 21 and older; they can not be compensated or reimbursed for these transactions. Adults will be allowed to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana products in liquid form from properly registered businesses. These limits are more permissive than those previously approved in Washington and Colorado, and may provide a model for other states to emulate.
Oregon and Alaska legalized and regulated the commercial production and sale of marijuana for adults, while voters residing in the nation’s capitol and in numerous other cities nationwide similarly decided this Election Day to eliminate marijuana possession penalties.
Voters in two states decided in favor of a pair of statewide measures to regulate the commercial production, retail sale, and personal use of marijuana by adults. Alaska and Oregon are the third and fourth states to enact regulations on the licensed production and sale of cannabis, joining Colorado and Washington. All four states have enacted their marijuana legalization laws via voter initiative.
Commenting on the new laws’ passage, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The majority of voters in these states, like a majority of voters nationwide, agree that a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or potential abuse. Elected officials in Alaska, Oregon, and elsewhere should welcome the opportunity to bring these common sense and long overdue regulatory controls to the commercial cannabis market.”
Under the new Oregon proposal (Measure 91), adults who engage in the non-commercial cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis for personal use (up to four marijuana plants and eight ounces of usable marijuana at a given time) will not be subject to taxation or commercial regulations. Imposition of the new law will not “amend or affect in any way the function, duties, and powers of the Oregon Health Authority under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.” The legalization measure takes effect on July 1, 2015.
Under the Alaska measure (Ballot Measure 2), the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis as well as the cultivation of up to six-plants for personal consumption will be legal and untaxed. Commercial production and retail sales of cannabis will be subject to licensing and taxation. Since 1975, Alaskans have enjoyed personal privacy protections allowing for the possession and cultivation of small quantities of cannabis. However, state law has never before permitted a legal market for marijuana production and sales. The initiative becomes law 90 days after the election is certified, which is expected to be in late November.
In California, nearly 60 percent of voters backed Proposition 47, which defelonizes simple drug possession crimes, such as the possession of hashish. Under the measure, Californians with felony records for certain marijuana possession offenses will also be eligible to have their records expunged. Those serving time for felony drug offenses will also be able to petition for resentencing.
In the US territory Guam , 56 percent of voters decided in favor of Proposal 14A, the Compassionate Cannabis Use Act. The new law directs “the Department of Public Health and Social Services to regulate the use of marijuana as treatment for medical conditions.” The Department has up to nine months to provide rules for the territory’s medical marijuana program.
By contrast, a proposed Florida amendment (Amendment 2) fell shy of the 60 percent support threshold necessary in that state to amend the state’s constitution. Fifty-eight percent of Florida voters endorsed the measure, including supermajorities in most every age group except for those voters age 65 and older. Said NORML’s Deputy Director: “This vote wasn’t a rejection of medical marijuana in Florida, but rather an affirmation that most Floridians want patient access to cannabis therapy. NORML hopes that the Florida lawmakers will hear this message loud and clear and take action in 2015 on behalf of the will of the majority of the electorate.”
Municipal voters overwhelmingly decided in favor of depenalizing cannabis on Election Day. In Washington, DC, some 70 percent of District voters approved Initiative 71, which removes criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants. Adults who engage in not-for-profit transactions of small quantities of cannabis or who possess marijuana-related paraphernalia are also no longer be subject to penalty under this act.
Unlike legalization measures in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, I-71 does not establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial cannabis market. However, members of the DC City Council are currently considering separate legislation to regulate the commercial production and sale of marijuana to adults. (Because Washington, DC does not possess statehood, all District laws are subject to Congressional approval prior to their implementation.)
Voters in several Michigan cities, including Saginaw (population 51,000), Port Huron (30,000), and Berkley (15,000) also decided in favor of local ballot measures depenalizing offenses involving the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. Michigan lawmakers are anticipated to debate a statewide decriminalization proposal in 2015.
Likewise, voters in South Portland, Maine approved a municipal ordinance eliminating local penalties in regard to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. Voters in Lewiston, Maine rejected a similar measure.
In New Mexico, voters in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties decided in favor of advisory questions in support of the decriminalization of one ounce or less of marijuana at a city, county and state level. Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties represent a third of the state’s population.
Finally, in Massachusetts, voters in several state representative districts voted in favor of various nonbinding public policy questions calling on state officials to legalize and regulate cannabis-related commerce.
Alaska voters approved Measure 2, to legalize and regulate marijuana, with 52% voting in favor (94% of the total vote counted as of writing). The state now joins Oregon and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana this election.
“This victory in Alaska is the coda to a perfect evening for marijuana legalization supporters,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “In a year where Republicans swept many state and local races, marijuana reform brought voters of both parties together in their support for ending marijuana prohibition. Lawmakers in Congress should recognize that a majority of Americans are ready to see marijuana legalized and regulated and should move to make substantial changes to federal law to reflect that reality.”
We will be posting a more in-depth look at what tonight’s results mean throughout the day tomorrow. Stay tuned.
At time of writing, 54.5% of the vote in Oregon has been counted and analysts and media outlets are calling it a victory for Oregon’s Measure 91 to legalize and regulate marijuana. With that amount counted, the totals are 55.1% YES to 44.9% NO.
“Oregon voters have delivered another crippling blow to the war on marijuana consumers,” NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri commented, “By a strong margin, Oregonians rejected the failed policy of prohibition and chose to pursue a new approach to marijuana, one that has so far been successful in Colorado and Washington and will prove successful in Washington, DC and now Oregon.”
We will be publishing much more detailed information about what this means for the state and what implementation will look like in the coming days. Stay posted.
With about 30% of the vote counted, analysts are calling it a win for Initiative 71 in Washington, DC to legalize marijuana possession. The current results are 68.6% YES and 31.4% NO.
“Voters in the nation’s capital have taken a strong stance against marijuana prohibition,” NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri said about the initiative’s approval, “This victory sends a resounding message to Congress that Americans are ready to legalize marijuana for adult use and, with it right in their backyard, it will be a message that is hard to ignore.”
We will update with final vote totals tomorrow. For now, let’s enjoy the wonderful symbolism of adult marijuana possession and limited home cultivation is legal in our capital.
The measure will now have to be transmitted to Congress and undergo a 30 day review period before implementation.