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Marijuana Legalization Wins Big in Midterms

Marijuana Legalization Wins Big in Midterms

The move to legalize pot won key victories in the 2014 midterms, in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C. Only Florida defeated a pro-pot measure last night, and even in the Sunshine State it was a close vote.

Florida’s constitutional amendment, Amendment 2, which would have given the OK for medical marijuana, needed 60 percent of the vote or more to become law, but only received 58 percent support.

Despite Florida’s loss, most of the rest of the marijuana measures across the nation were successful.

The pot initiative in the nation’s capital saw an easy win on Tuesday, with some 64 percent voting in favor of Initiative 71, a measure that makes it legal to possess up to 2 ounces of pot.

Many voters saw the measure as a vote in favor of “social justice,” with voters hoping to stop the mounting number of young people finding their lives ruined by petty drug convictions. The D.C. measure also allows residents to grow up to six marijuana plants in their own homes for personal use.

“With marijuana legal in the federal government’s backyard it’s going to be increasingly difficult for national politicians to continue ignoring the growing majority of voters who want to end prohibition,” legalization advocate Tom Angell told The Atlantic. “We can expect to see many more ambitious national politicians finally trying to win support from the cannabis constituency instead of ignoring and criminalizing us.”

The bigger movement was in Alaska where Measure 2 won a relatively close victory 52 to 48 ushering in legalized pot sales in the Frontier State.

Measure 2 allows adults 21 and over to possess an ounce of pot. It also provides for homegrowers to have up to six plants for personal use and allows them to transfer up to an ounce at a time without charging money. The measure additionally sets up a Colorado-like state pot industry to be regulated by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

A tax was also levied. Commercial growers will be charged a tax of $50 per ounce.

Public pot use, though, was prohibited, making public intoxication punishable by up to a $100 fine. The measure does not make any changes to laws governing driving while intoxicated.

Oregon also went big for pot on Tuesday, becoming the third U.S. State to legalize recreational marijuana.

The Beaver State’s Measure 91, which passed with 54 percent of the vote, legalizes personal possession of up to two ounces, allows the manufacture and sale of marijuana to people 21 and older and creates a commercial regulatory system for the production, distribution and sale of marijuana. It also allows homegrowers to have up to four plants and 8 ounces of dried pot on hand at any given time for personal use only.

In other pot news, the City of South Portland, Maine okayed the possession of up to an ounce of pot in an effort that supporters say is a precursor to a larger, state-wide effort in 2016.

The U.S. territory of Guam also voted to set up a new government-sponsored medical marijuana industry.

California, Michigan, and New Mexico also reduced penalties for possession of pot. Massachusetts voted in favor of a slew of so far non-binding policy questions, setting the stage for larger pro-pot measures to come.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter: @warnerthuston. Email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.

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