Oregon, Washington DC okay ballot measures to legalize marijuana

Oregon will join the company of Colorado and Washington state, where voters approved the recreational use of pot two years ago.

hidden November 05, 2014 14:47:47 IST
Oregon, Washington DC okay ballot measures to legalize marijuana

New York: Voters in Oregon and Washington DC, approved ballot measures on Tuesday allowing the recreational use of marijuana by adults, elating legalization activists who hope to extend their winning streak across the US.

Oregon will join the company of Colorado and Washington state, where voters approved the recreational use of pot two years ago. And the US capital is on the same path unless Congress, which has review power, blocks the move.

Still to come were results from Alaska, which also had a marijuana-legalization measure on its ballot on Tuesday.

Oregon Washington DC okay ballot measures to legalize marijuana

Representational Image. AP

Other volatile issues on state ballots include minimum wage increases and abortion. Voters in Washington state, faced with two competing measures on gun sales, approved an expansion of background checks.

The marijuana measure in Washington, DC, would make it legal to possess up to two ounces (56 grams) of pot and up to three mature marijuana plants for personal use, but it does not provide for the legal sale of marijuana, leaving that matter up to the DC Council. That's different from the measures in Oregon and Alaska, which would follow the example of Colorado and Washington state in setting up systems for regulating and taxing retail sales of marijuana.

The Drug Policy Alliance, one of the leaders of the legalization campaign, said Tuesday's results would bolster its efforts to push through a ballot measure in California in 2016

"The pace of reform is accelerating, other states are sure to follow, and even Congress is poised to wake from its slumber," said Ethan Nadelmann, the alliance's executive director.

Oregon's measure calls for pot legalization by 1 July, and requires the state Liquor Control Commission to adopt regulations by 1 January, 2016.

Oregon sheriffs were among the law's chief opponents, contending that legalization would give children access to marijuana and could lead to more people driving under the influence.

The campaign in DC included a debate about race — the measure's supporters said blacks in the city had been disproportionately targeted for marijuana arrests.

In Florida, a measure that would have allowed marijuana use for medical reasons fell short of the 60 percent approval to pass; near-complete returns showed it getting about 57 percent of the vote. Twenty-three states allow medical marijuana.

In other ballot measures, voters in Colorado and North Dakota rejected measures that opponents feared could lead to bans on abortion.

The Colorado proposal would have added "unborn human beings" to the state's criminal code. It was the third measure on Colorado ballots in recent years seeking to grant "personhood" to the unborn.

North Dakota voters rejected an amendment that would have declared in the state constitution "the inalienable right to life of every human being at every stage of development must be recognized and protected."

In Tennessee, voters approved a measure that will give state legislators more power to regulate abortion. Opponents fear it will lead to tough new laws that would jeopardize women's access to abortions.

Voters in Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota all approved increases in the state minimum wage at the same time they were electing Republican to Congress who oppose increasing the national minimum wage . Alaskans also were voting on a minimum wage increase.

In Washington state, voters approved a measure to expand background checks on gun sales and transfers; the checks will be extended to private transactions and many loans and gifts. A rival measure would have prevented the state from expanding checks in that fashion; it was trailing statewide.

Like federal law, Washington law currently requires checks for sales or transfers by licensed dealers but not for purchases from private sellers, like those who sell at gun shows or to friends.

California voters approved a ballot initiative that will reduce penalties for low-level drug and property crimes. Shoplifting, forgery, fraud and petty theft are among the crimes that will be treated as misdemeanors rather than felonies. Misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of less than a year in custody. The measure is expected to save hundreds of millions of dollars in prison costs each year, with the savings diverted to school programs, victims' services, and mental health and drug treatment.

Colorado voters rejected a measure that would have required labeling of certain genetically modified foods. A similar measure was on the ballot in Oregon.

Opponents of the requirements — including food corporations and biotech firms — said mandatory labels would mislead consumers into thinking engineered ingredients are unsafe, which scientists have not proven.

AP

Updated Date:

also read

US Capitol on lockdown after car rams barricade, injuring two officers; driver shot
World

US Capitol on lockdown after car rams barricade, injuring two officers; driver shot

The incident occurred about 91 metres from the entrance of the building on the Senate side of the Capitol

BTS condemns anti-Asian racism in the US, issues statement saying they've faced it personally
Entertainment

BTS condemns anti-Asian racism in the US, issues statement saying they've faced it personally

In a public statement, BTS said their own painful encounters with racism included “expletives” and being “mocked for the way” they look

US Supreme court sides with Facebook in a lawsuit over unwanted text notifications
News & Analysis

US Supreme court sides with Facebook in a lawsuit over unwanted text notifications

A US man filed a case against Facebook after he received notifications of an attempted login to his account even though he never had an accounts.