Among the issues decided by the ballots cast in Tuesday’s midterm elections, voters are determining the fate of marijuana legalization for recreational use in Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., and parts of Maine, and for medical use in Florida.
Yahoo News reported that ballot measures in Oregon and Alaska “would set up a network of regulated pot shops, similar to those already operating in Colorado and Washington State after twin landmark votes in 2012,” and that a measure in the District of Columbia “would allow possession but not retail sales.”
According to NBC News, “Most Americans support plans to legalize marijuana in theory,” and Tuesday’s election will show “a decision about the specific initiatives in Oregon and Alaska as a referendum on the success of those unfolding experiments in Colorado and Washington.”
The Communication Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert, said that his group, which is working to increase marijuana legalization among states in 2016, has high hopes for the midterm elections.
“Win or lose, we expect to see more support and more dialogue about the issue than ever,” Tvert said.
According to Yahoo News, polls in Oregon “have shown a narrow majority favoring legal pot,” and polls in Alaska, “a Republican-leaning state with a libertarian streak,” have been inconsistent.
The Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, said that he is not worried about the outcome of the 2014 midterm elections, regarding marijuana legalization in Oregon.
“If we lose in Oregon, it will shift the national frame a little bit. But it doesn’t change the strategy and it doesn’t change the tactics,” said Nadelmann. “A generation from now people will still step back and look at the prohibition of marijuana and say, what the heck was that about?”
Despite the narrow polls, Deborah Williams, the deputy treasurer of Alaska’s campaign for legalization, is confident.
“We’re going to win,” said Williams. “It’s been a true grass roots campaign, pun intended, a true bipartisan, door to door effort, and our own polls show us 10 points ahead.”
Yahoo News reported that the measure D.C., which would “allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants,” has been favored by a two-to-one margin.
Maine is following Washington D.C. in adding semi-legalization to the ballot. According to the Sun Herald, voters in the cities of South Portland and Lewiston “will vote on ballot initiatives that would legalize possession of marijuana.”
Tuesday’s elections will also determine whether Florida becomes the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.
TIME reported that the campaign for legalization of medical marijuana “has drawn millions from big spenders on the left and right,” and has been “an issue splitting the gubernatorial candidates in a very close race.”
According to NBC News, although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, advocates argue that legalization is a “common sense policy,” due to the fact that it would “raise tax revenue, allow law enforcement to chase more serious crime, and undercut Mexico’s violent drug cartels.“