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Mixed Bag Of Weed: Wins, Losses For Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana will be legalized in Oregon, and Washington, D.C., with Florida experiencing the only defeat so far.

Moving over to Washington, D.C., voters passed Initiative 71 at 68.8 percent of the vote last counted. Adults 21 and older will now able to possess 2 ounces of marijuana and grow up to 6 plants, but first the DC government needs to certify the measure, and once certification is in place, a 60-day congressional review will have to be conducted, leaving Congress time to attempt to interfere with the initiative.

“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. I’ve been saying for a while that 2016 presidential candidates need to start courting the cannabis constituency, and now the road to the White House quite literally travels through legal marijuana territory,” Tom Angell, Chairman of Marijuana Majority, told tTe Daily Caller News Foundation.

Measure 91 passed in Oregon at 55.1 percent voting yes, and 44.9 percent voting no. Now, adults 21 and older in Oregon will be permitted to grow up to 4 plants of marijuana and possess as much as 8 ounces. But legalization in Oregon will mean something a little different from its adjacent state, Washington, mostly in the form of lower taxes to help mitigate the problem of black market sales.

“The trend is clear: Marijuana prohibition is coming to an end,” Angell said. “As 2016 approaches, 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.”

Florida’s Amendment 2 was less expansive than other proposals and would have limited the legalization of marijuana to very specific medical conditions, but supporters are still bitterly disappointed that they failed to garner the necessary 60 percent for the Amendment to pass, a result that is ultimately unsurprising.

The situation in Florida is unique among the other states, in that the initiative is a constitutional amendment, meaning that a support rate of 60 percent or higher was needed to make the change. Supporters of the Amendment were concerned that young voters would not turn out to vote in the same numbers as for presidential elections.

“A tremendous majority of Floridians voted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes today – and that’s what really matters notwithstanding the fact that the initiative will not be implemented,” added Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The campaign this year faced several key challenges, including that it took place during a midterm election in which turnout dynamics don’t favor marijuana reform. Next time medical marijuana is on the ballot, organizers should put patients and medical professionals at the forefront of the campaign rather than relying on a well-meaning but much less sympathetic political donor as the chief spokesperson.”

Results have not yet come in for Alaska, but Measure 2 would legalizes marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. Unlike Guam, however, Alaska allows for pot plants at home. Users can grow up to 6 plants for personal consumption. Marijuana will be heavily taxed, at a rate of $50 dollars per ounce, with sale regulated under the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, or a potentially new Marijuana Control Board. Alaska already has fairly loose policy surrounding marijuana. The drug has been officially decriminalized since 1975. In 1998, the state legalized medical marijuana. Alaskan supporters of Measure 2 raised over $890,000 for the campaign.

However, if the measure passes, Alaskans will be able to access medical marijuana safely, as previously no medical marijuana dispensaries actually existed, even if patients have a prescription in hand.

Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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