A record number of state measures asking voters to approve cannabis legalization and regulation have qualified for the ballot next month.
Five states are considering whether to allow recreational adult use, and at least two others are considering seeking approval for medical cannabis in one form or another.
None are guaranteed a victory, but should all pass, it would be a significant boost in the effort to end the cannabis portion of the inhumane War on Drugs the US has waged against millions of its own citizens with their own tax money over the last 50 years.
“One in five states will be able to go to the polls and vote for some level of legalization,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, the nation’s oldest organization advocating for cannabis reform. “It’s important to emphasize that there are an unprecedented number of state initiatives. It’s a significant evolution and maturation of our issue and the way advocates campaign for marijuana reform.”
Armentano notes that it is also another indication of the current disconnect between the views of constituents and their elected officials. “It’s not the way the democratic process is supposed to work. When there’s a change in opinion, they [ legislators] should be reflecting on and making that change,” he says. “But they aren’t, and people are taking it into their own hands.”
The five states considering commercial legalization are Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California. The Golden State is the biggest question mark. California has a long history with the plant. It decriminalized possession in 1975 and was the first to approve medical marijuana with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Proposition 19, proposed in November 2010, would have made possession and cultivation legal for adults, but it was defeated 53.6 percent to 46.5 percent.
Now, six years later, Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, is on the ballot in California. It is being backed by a coalition of state and national organizations and leaders. Let’s Get It Right CA is the big local group, but Governor Gavin Newsom, the ACLU, NAACP, Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, NORML, and Marijuana Policy Project are all pushing the initiative. Tech entrepreneur Sean Parker has donated at least $2.5 million to the cause. Groups opposing the recreational measure include Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana and the California Police Chiefs Association.
“It’s one of the largest states in the country, and it’s also a very diverse state geographically, politically, and demographically,” says Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project. The passage of Proposition 64, Tvert says, “would reinforce the current sense that people are feeling, that the nation is ready to move beyond marijuana prohibition.”
Source: The Weed Blog