2 States, D.C. to Let Voters Decide Fate of Marijuana Legalization

A plume is haunting America — the plume of legal marijuana. The November ballots of two states, Oregon and Alaska, and the District of Columbia will include initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana. If passed, they will join Washington state and Colorado, who passed their own legalization measures in 2012. Florida voters will decide on a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana, but not its recreational use.

Oregon

The November ballot will include the Oregon Legalized Marijuana Initiative, which if passed would legalize the possession and sale of recreational marijuana. Adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess up to 8 ounces of “dried” marijuana and up to 4 plants. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would be responsible for regulating sales.

Supporters of marijuana legalization, led by New Approach Oregon, collected 145,000 petition signatures — far more than the minimum 87,213 required. A 2013 poll shows that 57 percent of likely voters would approve the initiative.

Alaska

The Alaska Marijuana Legalization, Ballot Measure 2, would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and the cultivation of up to 6 plants for personal consumption for adults 21 and older. It would also legalize the establishment of licensed, commercial cannabis production and retail sales of marijuana and related paraphernalia.

The Alaska Campaign to Regulate Marijuana submitted 46,000 signatures, well more than the 30,169 required. Two 2014 surveys report that between 52 and 55 percent of Alaskans support the measure.

District of Columbia

Initiative 71 would legalize the possession of up to 2 ounces for personal use and up to six plants. Oddly, it would allow owners to gift up to one ounce of marijuana, but selling it would remain illegal. Only paraphernalia could be lawfully sold.

A group called the DC Cannabis Campaign (DCMJ) turned in a petition with 57,000 signatures, more than double the 22,400 minimum. A Washington Post poll found that 63 percent of residents support legalization.

The ballot petition follows a recent decriminalization law passed by the D.C. City Council in July. Persons caught with one ounce or less of marijuana are currently only charged with a $25 citation. Additionally, police officers can’t frisk, request a warrant, or arrest someone solely based on the smell of marijuana.

However, D.C. is under the control of Congress and members of Congress are not shy about using their power to intervene in the city’s government.

On June 25, House Republicans voted to block funding for the new D.C. law thanks to the efforts of U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), who introduced the amendment. However, it’s unclear if that would change the enforcement of the law.

Florida

Floridians will vote on the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, Amendment 2, in November. The amendment would legalize prescriptions and medical marijuana treatment centers. According to state law, constitutional amendments need a 60 percent majority in order to pass.

The Drug Free Florida campaign, which opposes the amendment, has raised $2.7 million — $2.5 million coming from a single contribution from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson — to defeat it. Despite opposition from Governor Rick Scott (R), the Florida Sheriff’s Association, and the Florida Medical Association, a recent Quinnipiac poll shows a whopping 88 percent of Floridians support the legalization of medical marijuana.

 

5 States Most Likely To Legalize Marijuana Next

 

While the national legalization movement may have been sparked by the legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington state, it has picked up serious momentum in 2014. Several states had decriminalization/legalization bills introduced in their respective legislatures and others have active petition movements that are preparing to introduce ballot initiatives in 2016.

Although states who liberalize marijuana will run counter to current federal drug laws, the Obama administration has ordered the Justice Department not to enforce federal law until the states set up their own regulatory measures.

Photo Source: AP