More States Going to Pot

images“At least nine states will charge ahead with marijuana initiatives on ballots in November—a record number—despite the federal government’s decision not to loosen restrictions on the drug, underscoring the precariousness of any type of legal recognition.” Andrea Noble

“The Drug Enforcement administration last week denied requests to change the legal classification of marijuana—it’s classified as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD—shooting down advocates’ push to get the drug federally approved for medical purposes.” Ibid

Record number of pot initiatives on state ballots

Andrea Noble, The Washington Times, August 22, 2016, p. 14

At least nine states will charge ahead with marijuana initiatives on ballots in November — a record number—despite the federal government’s decision not to loosen restrictions on the drug, underscoring the precariousness of any type of legakrecognition.

In five states — California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine — voters will be asked whether they want to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Meanwhile, those in Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota will vote on starting full-fledged medical marijuana programs, and Montana voters will de­cide whether to loosen restrictions on their state’s existing program.

Voters in Missouri, Michigan and Oklahoma could see medical marijuana initiatives on the Nov. 8 ballots if supporters produce enough petition signatures. Initiative supporters in Missouri and Michigan are embroiled in court battles over sig­natures that were thrown out and left them short of the thresholds required. Officials in Oklahoma are counting signatures turned in last week.  Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the number of states voting on marijuana initiatives is unprecedented.

“I think that speaks to both the public support of the issue and the maturation of the campaigns behind reforming marijuana laws,” Mr. Armentano said.

Voters in several of the states with marijuana initiatives have defeated previous measures. Le­galization proponents say each election cycle with marijuana on the ballot has given advocates more experience with ballot language and generated more enthusiasm for their campaigns.

Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of marijuana through voter referendums, and 25 states have approved medical marijuana programs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration last week denied requests to change the legal classification of marijuana — it’s classified as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD — shooting down advo­cates’ push to get the drug federally approved for medical purposes..

But drug reform advocates say approval of the ballot initiatives this year could produce enough momentum on marijuana reform to change that in coming years.

“If we win, it’s really going to accelerate our abil­ity to change federal law,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority.

A win in California, the most populous state in the nation, would mean an additional 53 House members would represent districts in a state with a legislative interest in reforming laws that hinder the marijuana industry, he said.

“We really could start to win a lot more victories on the federal level in 2017 because of what happens,” Mr. Angell said.

The legalization movement has received unlikely support from lawmakers who haven’t necessarily been in favor of making the drug available for rec­reational use but who want to remove barriers for the industry now that it’s functional, said’ Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, which is supporting ballot initiative efforts in several states.

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