State, Local Marijuana Legalization Measures Win Big On Election Day

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 5, 2014

    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.

    Some 56 percent of Oregon voters backed Measure 91 while 52 percent of Alaskans endorsed Measure 2.

    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.

    38 responses to “State, Local Marijuana Legalization Measures Win Big On Election Day”

    1. tim says:

      Alright! What an election cycle to be thrilled about. In an off year election of all times. Florida supported amendment 2 by 58% but it wont count when I wake up tomorrow though. Great job Oregon and Alaska and dc. We’ll get them next time Florida. 58% in favor of medical marijuana is a good number in an non presidential election. Maybe we can scratch the amendment part and try again in 2016. Morgan said he will do it if it ended up in
      high 50’s. Hell they can fix the growers rights problem

    2. F*ck you, Kevin Sabet says:

      Reefer Madness is no longer working. Civil rights and compassion are prevailing. Sorry, prohibitionists, you’re officially losing. Just in case you didn’t already understand that. See you in 2016.

    3. True Floridian says:

      A true message to US lawmakers, it’s political suicide to stay an opponent of cannabis legalization in the land of the free! Either get on board or get out of the way!

    4. Miles says:

      I still live in a Nazi State (Virginia) but feel like celebrating nevertheless! This is historic. The dominoes of prohibition are falling :O)

    5. Yea Yeah!!!
      Obama can legally get high
      Maybe that will get his mind right

    6. Anonymous says:

      Smoke weed

    7. Me says:

      Florida we ruined it! Our legislature will not listen that a majority of our voters want medical marijuana, if they do they will just put out another half assed attempt like with the lousy “Charlotte’s Web” law.

    8. Galileo Galilei says:

      Despite an overall election victory for the prohibitionist Republicans, marijuana related measures won everywhere except Florida, where the favorable vote still reached 58%. Normally you see people over 65 and Republicans opposed to reform. This time the Republicans are notably absent from that group.

    9. Voice of the Resistance says:

      Bravo, Oregon, Alaska, Washington DC, bravo well done!

    10. Sick of Corporatists says:

      Sad thing is that in May of this year a poll showed 90% support for medical marijuana in Florida. One man, Sheldon Adelson, came in and spent $5 Million dollars to run ads opposing the legislation. He supplied 85% of the total amount spent in opposition to the ballot measure. It’s pretty sad that one rich old dinosaur can manipulate the electorate that way, through deceptive ads and flat out lies. Pretty sick of money equating free speech in this country.