High Times Legislative Roundup: 2014 Election

Election Day is here in America, with two states and the District of Columbia champing at the bit to decide on whether to legalize recreational marijuana in some form or fashion. Meanwhile, Florida voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to determine the fate of the state’s controversial medical marijuana initiative. Political experts believe the majority of these races are too close to call, while supporters stand firm that the measures will earn enough support to pass.

Washington DC: Initiative 71

Ironically, inside the nation’s capital, home of marijuana prohibition, voters will decide on the outcome of Initiative 71, which would legalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults 21 and over. It would also allow residents to cultivate up to six plants on private property, but would not establish a taxed and regulated retail market like those in Colorado and Washington state. The consensus surrounding whether this measure will have enough support to pass seems to be fairly optimistic, with a poll released last month by The Washington Post indicating voters are “in favor” of Initiative 71 by a 2-to-1 margin. Unfortunately, even if it receives voter approval, it will be up to Congress to determine if they should allow the measure to become law. Again, political experts believe the likelihood of a veto is slim to none, as it would take bipartisan support to overthrow the voter’s decision — a feat that is simply not probable. Some believe there will be too many other pressing issues in front of lawmakers to concern themselves with restoring pot prohibition in the District.

Oregon: Measure 91

Oregon voters are set to head to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots on Measure 91, which would establish a recreational marijuana market very similar to the one currently underway in Colorado. The only difference in this proposal is that it comes with lower taxes than those imposed in the Centennial State. However, this particular race has supporters somewhat nervous, as the latest poll reveals voters are essentially split down the middle in regards to the issue. In fact, the opposition is actually stronger by a few points — 46 percent — in comparison to the 44 percent of who support for the measure. Yet, another poll that was released in early October revealed support for Measure 91 was around 52 percent, which is definitely more optimistic but not enough of to say without a shadow of a doubt that the proposal will be approved. Experts believe the turnout of younger voters at the polls will be the determining factor on whether this initiative is successful.

Alaska: Ballot Measure 2

Alaska voters will decide Tuesday on the issue of establishing a recreational marijuana market, which is similar to the proposal on the ballot in Oregon, only with higher taxes. Yet, much like Oregon, support and opposition for the measure appears to be nearly equally divided. Earlier this year, a survey by Public Policy Polling found that 48 percent supported the proposal, while an updated poll in August found that number closer to 44 percent. Additional polls indicate that the outcome of the election could go either way, with a Dittman Research poll showing opposing forces outweighing supporters by 10 percent.

Florida: Amendment 2

Florida voters will decide on whether to make the state the first in the south to legalize a medical marijuana program, a situation that has become more confounded throughout the duration of the campaign. Over the summer, the polls indicated support for the measure to be around 88 percent, while last week a Gravis Marketing poll showed support was only 50 percent. Ultimately, 60 percent of the voters will have to show up on Tuesday in favor of the proposal for it to have a fighting chance of becoming a reality. Some experts believe the concept of medical marijuana has lost its momentum in the eyes of Floridians, which has eliminated its potential for passage. Yet, others argue that support is still lingering in the 62 percent range, which gives them more than enough chance of obtaining a win in the upcoming election.

In the end, the polls show that all of the initiatives to legalize marijuana in the 2014 midterm elections have a relatively good chance of being passed, especially in Oregon and the District of Columbia. The outcome of Tuesday’s election will undoubtedly provide additional states with more artillery to lead successful campaigns to legalize the leaf in 2016, which some have already begun. Again, experts believe the next presidential election will be one of the most important years in the realm of cannabis reform in the United States. Yet, it is important for everyone to make it to the polls on Tuesday to do their part in voting out of the grey hairs of prohibition, while putting into office progressive leaders on a mission to legalize marijuana on a local, state and federal level.

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