State, Local Marijuana Legalization Measures Win Big On Election Day

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 thoughts

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Does this finally prove that repealing cannabis prohibition is a ‘vote winner’? I bet there are some interesting discussions going on in the fledgling campaign teams of 2016 presidential nominees/candidates !

    Well done again to all those who have worked so hard for so many years

  9. So ridiculous…. What about these other states
    That you hear nothing about like here in NC???? We need to vote as a whole nation, on mmj or recreational us through the whole country!!!!!!!
    So messed up how the government is ruining this
    Country by making it illegal in the first place.
    If it was legal through the nation, we wouldn’t be in debt there would be no such thing as debt to us because we wouldn’t owe it not to mention
    About how good and reliable hemp is as a resource…. The government is the real criminal. Its pretty damn pathetic!!!!

  10. I gotta admit, I was so disappointed with the loss in Florida that I tuned out early, satisfied that Oregon became the third state to legalize marijuana… Alaska was looking good but I still had my doubts.

    Boy was I surprised.

    Now that we are facing a Republican Senate, voted in with anger and bitterness, having a Republican state fully legalized is quite a victory in itself.

    Florida had such terrible ironies;

    1). Older Floridians are the most easily frightened by propaganda, and yet they are the population that needs medicinal marijuana most!

    2) As one NORML blogger pointed out last night, it took %57 of Floridians to vote in the 2006 law that required %60 of the vote to change the state Constitution.

    These facts should not discourage people from voting, but must show them we need to get out and vote MORE. Shame on all the Floridians who desire medicinal marijuana but were either to lazy or too scared to vote.

    Questions for Paul:

    1). What is the percentage now for U.S. population with pro-marijuana legislation?

    2). How will this effect the pending decision by Federal judge Mueller in The U.S. v. Pickard?

    Great work NORML. They keep moving the goal post, but we keep scoring anyway.

  11. Now all that is needed to make the Pacific Ocean states 100% legal is to get California and Hawai’i on board. I like the odds of that!

  12. All I can say is yes! yes! yes! Way to go Oregon, Alaska & DC. And Florida won in my opinion–they were screwed by the local machine down there–and its 60% bullshit.

    But I am so happy for those other two states and DC. I think this adds invaluable momentum to our side!!

    If California can join the ranks in ’16, we’ll have the entire west coast! And I’m still waiting for you Easterners to get things going too!

  13. The most important thing to focus on, in post election cleanup, is protecting DC from Congress, now; we must get their Initiative strongly secured. Of course, this will allow every federal politician to garden plants and ‘gift’ ounces, in their DC homes – including the White House!!

  14. Congratulations to all the people nationwide doing all they can to decriminalize cannabis. The push back against the war on drugs is a huge vote for FREEDOM of adult action. Time for FEDERAL to end this prohibition.
    COME ON Erik Holder you were told your dept can unlist the herb from the drug class. Before you leave FIX this reclassification of cannabis to an herb. Decriminalize it.

  15. If congress approves the DC plan to regulate commercial sale to adults and they don’t consider that grounds for a new nationwide cannabis policy we should riot in the streets. It would be sheer hipocracy.

  16. Can’t Florida do a straight-up legalization vote? With 58 percent for medical it should be able to get a simple majority for legalization in 2016. Or do they have to go the amendment route on all questions like this? I hope 2016 has the question on more than five or six state ballots, folks should go for the entire New England area, Calif. and Hawaii, Nevada, Az, New Mexico, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, all over. Doesn’t make sense to do it half-way, go for as many states as possible. Congrats to everyone who did the hard work to achieve yesterday’s results – pat yourselves on the back from everyone here.

  17. Can someone answer this? Since d.c. is not state territory, do you think congress will shut that legalization vote down and repeal it? Or do you think since it had a resounding 68% win that that congress will pass it?

  18. A very good showing in FL for an off-cycle election, suggests if tried again it would pass in a presidential year in that state. The 60% for a State Const. Amendment which is what this ballot measure was if perfectly fine, FL wisely made that change to sort of protect itself from the chaos that is CA ballot. Try again, success is just around the corner.

    Cindy – NJ is a medical-only state. Chances of changing that much in the short term (even without Christi), low. Next step there in a few years is decriminalizing small possession as there maybe support for that in the state house.

    Joey – Well you could try but this is best done in baby steps, particularly in a state like FL or ones with similar demographics. One has to be able to make the sale to the public, FL Medical can pass, it’s relatively easy argument, one that’s been made enough that it’s broken through to the population, probably will pass on the ballot again in the 2016 cycle. My advice would be to stick to that message in FL for 2016, don’t muddy the waters with the larger argument, yet.

  19. lilu says:..

    Congress has a 60 days review ability when it comes to DC’s laws. I don’t know exactly when that 60-day clock starts (today or date of effect of law). If it starts today the new congress is not even seated for about 58 days and chances of this being mucked with in the opening week of congress – unlikely. If it starts later I still don’t see most of congress wanting to get too involved with this (it’s just small scale decriminalization), the gop house previously didn’t show too much interest in DC’s initiatives in this area and don’t know why the new largely unchanged one would.

    So net-net I think the concern on this front is a bit over-hyped till anything actually happens, if they do nothing it takes effect (no action means it goes into effect).
    Also take note there isn’t much pressure on House or Senate members to actually do anything (in a negative way) about this from their constituents back home. This isn’t quite the third-rail type issue it used to be.

  20. Personal responsibility should be the platform of the Republican party. For example: if you cared only about money and failed to teach your kids about the intrinsic value of life, and the joy of sharing, and being kind and compassionate, especially toward the suffering, then it is YOUR fault that your kids became addicted to cocaine and heroin, not marijuana’s fault. You think your lack of self-control means that everyone should wear the leash that you thought your son was missing? Tell me, Mr. Adelson, would your sons have even felt the tug of that leash given their access to legal resources? And isn’t creating the marijuana black market by criminalizing it the REAL gateway upon which more dangerous black markets piggyback? Do you think there would be a 10th of the heroin/cocaine black market if the criminalization of marijuana didn’t provide a ready-made distribution network? Marijuana didn’t kill your son, Mr. Adelson: marijuana criminalization killed him.

  21. Message to Mr. Adelson, who spent $4 million to defeat medical marijuana in FL:
    Personal responsibility should be the platform of the Republican party. For example: if you cared only about money and failed to teach your kids about the intrinsic value of life, and the joy of sharing, and being kind and compassionate, especially toward the suffering, then it is YOUR fault that your kids became addicted to cocaine and heroin, not marijuana’s fault. You think your lack of self-control means that everyone should wear the leash that you thought your son was missing? Tell me, Mr. Adelson, would your sons have even felt the tug of that leash given their access to legal resources? And isn’t creating the marijuana black market by criminalizing it the REAL gateway upon which more dangerous black markets piggyback? Do you think there would be a 10th of the heroin/cocaine black market if the criminalization of marijuana didn’t provide a ready-made distribution network? Marijuana didn’t kill your son, Mr. Adelson: marijuana criminalization killed him.

  22. I just hope With a new Governor Wolf maybe we can get at least the medical cannabis approved for people that suffering Epilepsy and daily seizures both adults and children. This could be an answer to my daughter being seizure free after 18 years dealing with it.

  23. As far as Massachusetts goes, we had a ballot question re: instructing our state rep to vote in support of legalizing and taxing like alcohol. I was utterly amazed to see that there was 74% yes votes. 74% is a huge number!

  24. In n.c.,it is the effin feds that hold up
    Legalization and decriminalization. Its always about them being soooo scared to lose revenue from an untaxed substance. I am 60 yr.old female who has smoked my whole adult life. If it benefited the feds, it would be a go. Hell, its a huge majority of Americans sitting in jail or prison for smoking weed. Ludicrous!!!! Who are they to tell citizens what to put in their bodies? I am po’d and have been about this for decades.

  25. Sorry for your loss Mr. Adelson. Thank you for showing the nation how easy it is to manipulate the vote with your money. Greed shall erode foundations built by our parents, and attacked by the jealous.

  26. ONDCP, DEA, why don’t you work hard, discipline yourself, take responsibility for being a bunch of losers, and start holding yourself to high standards like the victorious hippies who have defeated you again. Otherwise, you might as well admit we were right about marijuana all along and you were wrong!

  27. Position paper: What is the best tactic to help legalize Marijuana in the USA? Answer: Let a hundred fowers bloom, or at least one for every race.

    By Jim Rivera, Keaau, HI

    *** Spread it thin to win ***

    This is being written in the shadow of the 2014 election results. In this election the pro-MJ-legalization brigade has sent us a wonderfully inspiring early-Xmas-present 100%-winning record for its pro-legalization candidates this time around. Records like this don’t happen by accident, and immediately bring up the obvious question: what’s next? The point is, we have been lucky enough to gain a teachable moment from this otherwise-awful election, so what is next? How can we best spend this political capital that has landed in our laps? Here’s my answer: (drum roll please)…

    Every political contest of any importance in the USA should have a striddenlypro-marijuana legalization candidate in 2015 and 2016. EVERY ONE

    This is the best thing that has EVER happened to the legalization movement; I
    have been looking for a teachable moment this good for most of my life. If
    there is a small Web site or FB page this is probably enough.

    Questions and answers:

    1. How do I become a candidate?

    Answer: Easier than you think. I live in Hawaii, most races, both state
    and Federal you fill out a form and pay $75 or so. Your mileage will
    vary. I think that $75 to register is a steal, I am sure some states
    are higher

    2. What’s an important race?
    Answer: Any federal or statewide office qualifies as important,
    some local offices are important.

    3. Should there be a national movement/organization for this?
    Answer: I think it would work better as a true grassroots effort.

    4. Why am I writing this?
    Answer: In this past election I had a grandson who is still in college
    who actually ran for US House Representative. He was trounced of course,
    but that wasn’t the point. He got TONS of free publicity (the incumbent
    was otherwise unopposed), for very litle effort. How did he do it? The
    old-fashioned way, he saw a teachable moment, grabbed the microphone
    and used it.

    5. OK, I buy the idea, when do I strike?
    January of 2016 is my guess. Just do it.

  28. What is the best tactic to help legalize Marijuana in the USA? Answer: Let a hundred fowers bloom, or at least one for every race.

    @ Jim Rivera I like your way of thinking…AR

  29. @ Kathy: I hope soon the CBD will be avail for your daughter; there are some Nutrients which can help; such as Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine).
    There is a video out on how to make “Marijuana Juice” like Wheat Sprout Grass
    I will post the video later. Good Luck ! ps Aspartame diet soda should not be consumed.
    (Aspartame can cause MS type symptoms);thanks!

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