The Voters Have Spoken — Again!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 3, 2009

    Conventional wisdom dictates that if the people lead then our political leaders will follow. Of course, when it comes to marijuana law reform, conventional wisdom seldom applies.

    In a result that should come as a surprise to nobody — except for perhaps certain members of law enforcement and state lawmakers — Maine voters today overwhelmingly approved Question 5, the Maine Marijuana Medical Act. The measure amends existing state law by: establishing a confidential patient registry, expanding the list of qualifying conditions for which a physician may recommend medicinal cannabis, and by allowing for the creation of non-profit state-licensed nonprofit dispensaries to assist in the distribution of medical cannabis to qualified patients.

    Of course for anyone following this issue, the result should not come as a surprise. Voters at the polls overwhelmingly approve marijuana law reform — virtually every time they have the opportunity to do so. Yet, over and over again voters have this opportunity because their cowardly elected officials continue to inexplicably punt on the issue.

    In Maine, for instance, lawmakers voted unanimously in April to put this issue before the voters rather than legislating it themselves. They did so even though state voters had previously (and by more than 60 percent) approved patients’ rights to use medical marijuana, and despite the fact that the current proposal had virtually no organized opposition aside from law enforcement.

    It was the same story in Colorado, where over 70 percent of Breckenridge voters elected today to amend the town code to remove all criminal and civil penalties, including fines, on the private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. Should anyone have been surprised? Not really. Over 70 percent of local voters said ‘yes’ to a similar statewide (but unsuccessful) measure in 2005. Nonetheless, this past August the Breckenridge Town Council elected to dodge the issue when it came up for a vote — opting instead to send it before the voters.

    Elsewhere in Colorado today, state police and politicians were conspiring to halt the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries. Law enforcement and local politicians are engaging in similar efforts in southern California.

    Yes, you read that right: cops and politicians are trying to undermine the very same reforms that the public today just embraced.

    When will they ever learn?

    131 responses to “The Voters Have Spoken — Again!”

    1. Philip says:

      A victory for the good guys!!

    2. Deff Shepard says:

      so what does this mean for Colorado? is it going to happen in Breckenridge?

      nevertheless this is awesome news

    3. Ben says:

      Was this any surprise? Its the only sensible option. Congratulations to the people of Maine for taking the step that other states have been reluctant to take.

      Maine, along with other states that have progressed past this pattern of oppression, will be remembered in the history books.

    4. Sean U Idaho says:

      Can someone please explain to me why alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amendment, while marijuana prohibition was a simple legislative matter?

      Its frustrating to me that no one can just have a live debate.

      In hearings I hear arguments presented without the chance of rebuttal or cross-examination. While this is educating, if a straight up comparison of arguments INCLUDING CITATIONS were to take place, marijuana would be legal before the end of the hour.

      That is of course if our governments would simply do their jobs and listen to their constituents.

      What’s your take, Paul?

    5. Jesse from Indiana says:

      Does anyone else find it odd that cops are trying to influence politics? Shouldn’t they be completely A-political. There is a reason why it is called law ENFORCEMENT not law CREATION.

    6. joshua reynolds says:

      you guys really need better writers and editors. as an amateur, and aspiring journalist, i would be very willing to lend a hand. are there any positions for writers open?

      [Editor’s Note: There are no positions open for aspiring writers at NORML who oddly begin their request for a job with a baseless insult.]

    7. Joel from PA says:

      Now that Obama has pledged to keep his hands off, medmj is going to start popping up in more places than ever before. More people will learn about the truth and the falsities of the myths around mj. The ball is definitely rolling. The dominoes are starting to fall. Legalization is on its way.

    8. Brianmsu says:

      Congratulations to the people in Maine! I’m sure that through their integrity, they will ardently provide prime examples for the re-education of “certain” people(s) in our society.

    9. Ray DiPasquale says:

      The greatest of all injustice is that which goes under the name of law; and of all sorts of tyranny the forcing the letter of the law against the equity is the most insupportable.
      – Sir Roger L’ Estrange