The movement towards the legalization of marijuana has taken another major step forward as both recreational marijuana usage and possession have been legalized by voters in Washington D.C., Alaska and Oregon.
The pro-marijuana voters in Washington, D.C., approved Initiative 71 on Tuesday November 4, which legalizes adult marijuana use, possession of up to two ounces and home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for personal use, joining the growing list of states legalizing pot, according to reports by NPR and USA Today.
Washington, D.C., reportedly voted to legalize pot use and possession in small amounts, but not sales. With 29% of votes in, 68% of District residents said yes for the measure, and 31% said no.
But even though sales are not yet allowed, Washington, D.C., allows people to transfer up to one ounce of marijuana to another person, but not sell it. The Huffington Post reported:
“The passage of the law on the federal government’s home turf represents one of the largest symbolic shifts in U.S. marijuana policy since Colorado and Washington state legalized the drug two years ago.”
The new states now join Washington State and Colorado, who legalized the drug in 2012, while Florida’s Amendment 2, which would have legalized medicinal marijuana, narrowly failed. Florida requires 60%+ to pass the ballot, and only received 57.48%.
In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the two states could generate more than $800 million in revenue from marijuana sales in the next several years, according to the new government forecasts project.
Dr. Malik Burnett, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement:
“The people of D.C. have voted in favor of ending racially-biased marijuana prohibition. The harms caused by the war on drugs are not fixed with this vote alone; the real healing begins with the D.C. Council developing a tax and regulate system which is based on racial and social justice.”
The pro-legalization activists gathered to show their excitement, celebrating the victory and looking towards 2016, when ballot initiatives in states such as California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Arizona are likely to be put to voters. Pro-marijuana activists heralded the victories as “huge.”
Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority in Washington, D.C., said:
“With marijuana legal in the federal government’s backyard, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for national politicians to continue ignoring the growing majority of voters who want to end prohibition.”
Celebration started in Oregon after the win with nearly 65% of the vote tallied. The legalization plans in Oregon were similar to Washington and Colorado and the law legalizes personal possession, manufacture and sale of marijuana for people 21 years of age and older. There were also plans to create a commercial regulatory system for the production, distribution and sale of marijuana. Oregon residents will be allowed to grow up to four plants at a time.
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, when asked about Oregon had this to say:
“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. The pace of reform is accelerating, other states are sure to follow, and even Congress is poised to wake from its slumber.”
Oregon is projected to have approved Measure 91 legalizing recreational use of pot, with nearly 54% in favor and 46% against.
Oregon’s legislative revenue office recently reported:
“In fiscal year 2017, the revenue from legal marijuana is expected to be $16.0 million with a lower range of $13.1 million and an upper range of $19.4 million.”
Oregon Public Broadcasting also reported:
“Marijuana legalization has been a long-standing issue in Oregon. In 1986, a failed measure first sought to legalize recreational pot. It was rejected by a large majority of voters.”
Beau Kilmer of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center explained to CBS News:
“What happened with respect to marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington in 2012 was unprecedented. Now we’re going to be adding Oregon and Washington, D.C., into the mix … This is very significant.”
The votes were counted overnight and the Alaska measure was the latest to be announced as approved, as the Associated Press reported that the Alaska measure passed on the morning of Wednesday November 5th.
Alaskans have voted to legalize marijuana by a 52% to 48% margin, with 97% of precincts reporting. The law in Alaska also has common qualities to that of Oregon. It would tax and regulate the marijuana production, sale and use, making the use legal for people over 21 years old.
According to Bill Parker, former deputy commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Corrections, 80% of drug arrests in Alaska are related to marijuana. He reportedly said in an ad:
“The war on marijuana is wasteful, and it hasn’t worked.”
The Anchorage Daily News reported:
“The initiative will not become law until 90 days after the election is certified, which is expected to be in late November. Per the law, the state can then create a marijuana control board — expected to be housed under the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. That group will then have nine months to craft regulations dealing with how marijuana businesses will operate.
“The initiative was years in the making. Alaska voters considered similar measures in 2000 and 2004. Both failed, though each indicated a measure of support for legalization. Measure 5 in 2000 took 40.9 percent of the vote; Ballot Measure 2 in 2004 gained a few more points, with 44 percent of the electorate voting in favor of it.”
Gallup reported in 2013 that more Americans supported legalization than those who opposed it. The new important updates come as polls reveal that Americans are becoming more supportive of pot legalization. Pro-marijuana voters call the election results an important step in the national legalization movement.
About 54% of Americans supported making marijuana legal in 2014, according to 2014 Pew Research poll.
What are your thoughts on marijuana legalization? Do you support the movement? Or do you feel that marijuana legalization would be a step in the wrong direction?
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