Justice

The Stakes Are High For Marijuana On Election Day

November 4th 2014

By:
Julian Ramis

As it stands, twenty-three states have legalized marijuana legislation, eleven states have legalized the medical use of CBD, and two states have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana.

Come November 4th, three more states and Washington DC will decide on whether or not to reform their marijuana laws.

bill hicks marijuana

Alaska

Alaska's Ballot Measure 2 will allow adults 21 and older to keep up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to 6 plants. It will also legalize commercial production and sales statewide with a $50 per ounce sales tax that could be a serious boon for an economy beholden to environmentally destructive oil and natural gas companies. Data collected by Public Policy Polling reveals a state divided, which should come as no surprise in light of the state government's inconsistent stance on the issue. Alaskans decriminalized in 1975, went medical in 1998 and are currently the highest state in the union, with 16% of the population having admitted to smoking weed in the last year. In spite of all this, conservative lawmakers have cut the legs out from under existing legislation by failing to set up a dispensary system. Supporters claim that Ballot Measure 2 is in large part an attempt to make good on Ballot Measure 8, which legalized medical marijuana in 1998.

Oregon

Oregon's Measure 91 allows adults 21 and older to keep up to eight ounces and grow up to four plants. It also legalizes the production and sale of marijuana under the regulation of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The measure places a $35 per ounce sales tax and pledges the revenue to enforcement and education programs. Polls reveal a slight lead for supporters of Measure 91 in spite of statewide campaigns waged by anti-pot organizations like Patrick Kennedy's Project SAM. While accusations that federal taxpayer money was used to fund anti-legalization events remain unproven, it is clear that the 'marijuana education events', as they were referred to by Project SAM's Kevin Sabet, have a clear cut agenda.

Marijuana Prohibition

Florida

Florida's Amendment 2 will legalize marijuana as a treatment for medical conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease and various other debilitating conditions. If passed, the Florida Department of Health will set up regulations for medical cards and treatment centers. While Floridians have expressed overwhelming support for medical marijuana, Amendment 2's future remains uncertain due to the 60% vote needed to pass a constitutional amendment in the sunshine state. Organizations like Vote No On 2 have abandoned even a semblance of objectivity in their battle to keep medical marijuana outside of state lines. Their campaign employs base scare tactics that seek to re-ignite fears leftover from the state's endemic addiction to prescription painkillers while completely ignoring the link between marijuana and a decrease in overdose deaths. Furthermore, their anti-pot propaganda obscures more legitimate concerns regarding the broad phasing of Amendment 2. In a state with one of the nation's largest elderly populations, medical marijuana will be an invaluable means of keeping health care affordable and effective.

The reality is much closer to this:

than this:

Washington DC

Washington DC's Initiative 71 allows adults 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants. The initiative does not speak to the regulation and taxation necessary for a functioning commercial market because voter initiatives are not allowed to dictate the local budget. That said, mayoral candidates Murial Bowser and David Cantina have expressed public support for legalization, even going as far as to say that they would help set up a commercial market if the initiative does indeed pass. In a city where black residents are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white residents, legalization will spell real progress, both economic and social.

If you live in any of these states, be sure to make your voice heard come Election Day!