Efforts to legalize marijuana for either recreational or medical use were defeated yesterday in three states. In Colorado, where Amendment 44 sought to legalize possession of an ounce of pot for adults, only 38% of the voters favored the inititative.
"I wish I knew [why it failed]," said Mason Tvert of SAFER, the organization that got the amendment on the ballot with NORML's help. "I think years of marijuana prohibition happened and people have heard half-truths about it all their lives. Why shouldn’t adults over the age of 21 be able to make a safer choice by choosing to smoke marijuana instead of consuming alcohol? That’s all we’re trying to accomplish - to give adults the right to make a safer choice."
In Nevada, Question 7 would not only have legalized possession of an ounce but instructed the state government to make marijuana available commercially in stores. The initiative, coordinated by the Marijuana Policy Project, took a 56%-44% beating.
MPP executive director Rob Kampia tried to put a positive spin on the loss - the second time in three years Nevadans decided against becoming the first state to legalize marijuana: "Today, a record number of Nevada voters called for an end to marijuana prohibition, the highest vote ever to end prohibition. The momentum is with us. Major social change never comes easily, but change in our failed marijuana laws is coming because prohibition does nothing but harm. Prohibition funds criminals and guarantees that teens have easy access to marijuana, and voters have begun to see through the drug czar's lies. We've made huge progress since our 39 percent to 61 percent loss on a similar ballot measure in Nevada four years ago. We plan to try again with another marijuana initiative in Nevada in November 2008 or 2010."
In South Dakota, medical-marijuana Measure 4 was on the short end of the vote, losing 52%-48%.
The good news was deprioritization measures, which lower the priority of police enforcement of local marijuana laws, passed in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Santa Monica (all in California), and Missoula, MT. The result of a similar vote in Eureka Springs, AK was not yet known.