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Radical Rant: 60 Days to Marijuana Election Night 2016

Russ Belville

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Can you believe we are just 60 days away from the 2016 election? Never before has there been so much marijuana on the ballot to cover—believe me, I know!

In 2010, I inaugurated my Marijuana Election Night™ coverage on “NORML SHOW LIVE,” the live podcast I produced for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws from 2008-2012. California had Proposition 19 on the ballot to legalize marijuana. I was joined by my co-host, Karri Gallaugher, and my friend, Jason “RoLLaJaY” Rivera, at Oakland’s Oaksterdam University.

We streamed live from the campaign headquarters all throughout the day. Karri went to the street to interview the No on Prop 19 protestors who had gathered outside, inaugurating the “Stoners Against Legalization” phenomenon I’ve reported on ever since.

We lost the election that day, but I was hooked on the politics of marijuana reform. Finally, the mainstream press was talking seriously about our issue. We’d had previous statewide legalization initiatives in Nevada, Alaska and Colorado before then, but having California on the ballot gave our issue national standing.

In 2012, the Marijuana Election Night™ coverage was more complicated. Colorado, Washington and Oregon were on the ballot. Having departed from NORML, I was now solely producing “The Russ Belville Show.”

Undeterred, I raised the funds to get Karri to Denver and myself to Seattle to cover the election at the respective campaign headquarters. My then-wife Iva Cunningham and her show’s co-host, Jennifer Alexander, anchored our live coverage from my studio in Portland.

First came the results from Colorado. We won by about 10 points! We could barely hear Karri over the Skype connection from Denver as the Amendment 64 victory cheers were deafening. Marijuana had just been legalized for the first time in a U.S. state, and we were streaming the reaction live.

Then I got to report from Seattle as Initiative 502 passed, also by about 10 points. It was quite a different reaction, however. Where Colorado’s reaction felt like an outburst of emotion from an oppressed people who’d finally been liberated, the room I was in reacted more like sports fans celebrating a championship win. Still, it was better than the coverage from Iva and Jennifer back in Oregon, where Measure 91 had lost by seven points.

In 2014, I anchored the Marijuana Election Night™ coverage from the studio in Portland. I had added a video camera and a whiteboard for listing all the results. We not only had legalization coverage for Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC; we also had medical marijuana coverage for Florida and Guam and added coverage of cities and counties voting on decriminalization in Michigan, Massachusetts, Maine and New Mexico.

We even covered Marijuana Election Night™ last year from Columbus, Ohio, as the ill-fated and activist-loathed Issue 3 lost by the greatest margin for a statewide marijuana reform since the 1980s. It was a bad night for marijuana politics but a good night for me, as it was my inaugural live stream with the Cannabis Radio online network.

This Tuesday, November 8, I’ll be anchoring my fifth edition of Marijuana Election Night™ live from California. You can tune in starting at 6 p.m. Eastern on CannabisRadio.com, where I’ll begin by telling you whether the Northern Mariana Islands (a U.S. territory) passed a medical marijuana law. I’m running a six-hour show that night, bringing you the latest live results as follows (all times Eastern):

·        7 p.m. – Florida (Medical Marijuana Amendment 2)

·        8 p.m. – Maine (Legalization Question 1) and Massachusetts (Legalization Question 4)

·        8:30 p.m. – Arkansas (Medical Cannabis Amendment and Medical Marijuana Amendment)

·        9 p.m. – Arizona (Legalization Prop 205) and Denver (Social Use Initiative)

·        10 p.m. – North Dakota (Medical Marijuana Measure 5), Montana (Medical Marijuana Initiative 182) and Nevada (Legalization Question 2)

·        11 p.m. – California (Legalization Prop 64) and Oregon (54 city and county marijuana license bans)

We’ll have live correspondents and campaign representatives reporting from the election night parties nationwide. We’ve also got live interview guests booked from the leadership of the major marijuana reform organizations, the best in marijuana politics media, executives from the leading cannabis companies and a few surprises.

It’s just like that election night coverage on the mainstream media, except we’re only bringing you the election results you care about.

Last week’s Radical Rant: Finally, Fewer Americans Think Marijuana Is Harmful

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