Marijuana Policy Results: The Good, The Bad, and The Undecided

Editor’s Note: Also, take a look at this article, New Jersey Doctors Required to Tell Patients That Medical Marijuana Isn’t Safe. Also check out this very informative site related to medical marijuana news.

Marijuana Policy Project We’re still tracking down all the results from yesterday’s election, but here’s a quick look at how things fared in races affecting marijuana policy. This year witnessed historic progress in the campaign to end marijuana prohibition – but as some of these results below show, there remains much work ahead. MPP and others are already looking to build on this year’s advances by launching new campaigns in 2012. First, the good news: Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

The only two major party gubernatorial candidates in the nation to vocally support medical marijuana and decriminalization were both victorious. Democrat Peter Shumlin won in Vermont, and Democrat Dan Malloy won in Connecticut. Both men bring renewed hope to efforts to pass more sensible marijuana laws in their respective states.

Lots of Winners and Some Losers for Marijuana in Midterm Elections

Winners and Some Losers for Marijuana in Midterm Elections

Also, in Massachusetts, voters in 18 out of 18 districts have overwhelmingly approved a series of non-binding policy questions asking whether they support medical marijuana or the regulation of marijuana like alcohol. That not only sends a strong pro-reform message to state lawmakers, but is a good sign for future efforts in Massachusetts as well.

Next, the bad news: California, Oregon, South Dakota, and New Mexico

As most readers probably already know, California’s Proposition 19, which would have made the Golden State the first in the nation to fully end the prohibition on adult marijuana use, was defeated last night. Garnering 46% of the vote, it still made history as the highest statewide vote in favor of marijuana legalization to date.

Sadly, the Obama administration took this defeat as an opportunity to spout more baseless “Reefer Madness”-style propaganda.

In Oregon, Measure 74, which would have authorized state-licensed dispensaries, also failed, as did South Dakota’s Measure 13 for medical marijuana. Pre-election polling showed both measures trailing significantly.

And in New Mexico, voters have elected Republican Susana Martinez as the state’s next governor. Martinez has previously voiced her desire to repeal New Mexico’s medical marijuana law – considered by many to be a national model for regulation.

But wait – the undecided! Arizona and California attorney general

The only marijuana ballot measure that still retains a hope of victory is Arizona’s Proposition 203, the medical marijuana initiative that would establish up to 120 licensed dispensaries in Arizona and received significant support from MPP. Current results show the measure down by fewer than 7,000 votes, but we have reports that up to 200,000 ballots have not yet been counted. It still has a chance!

And finally – in a hugely significant contest for the future of medical marijuana in California – it appears that Republican Steve Cooley is heading toward defeat in the race for California attorney general. Simply put, Cooley is a self-declared enemy of medical marijuana laws, and his election could have wrought all kinds of hardship on thousands of patients and providers throughout California.

Here’s a summary of the results:

Arizona: Proposition 203, which would bring a working medical marijuana law to the state, is too-close-to-call at the moment, as tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of additional ballots remain to be counted.  MPP will continue to closely monitor the outcome of this proposition over the coming days.

California: Proposition 19, which would have made the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana legal and would have allowed regulated distribution systems on the local level, did not pass. It did, however, receive a very respectable 46 percent of the vote.

South Dakota: Measure 13, which would have protected seriously ill South Dakota residents from arrest and prosecution for using medical marijuana with their doctor’s recommendation, was ultimately rejected by voters.

Oregon: Measure 74, which would have established oversight and licensing requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon, was also defeated by the voters yesterday. This loss, however, does not in any way affect Oregon’s existing medical marijuana law.

On a positive note, two gubernatorial candidates with good positions on marijuana policy reform won their respective elections.  Peter Shumlin in Vermont and Dan Malloy in Connecticut both have positive outlooks on marijuana decriminalization, giving those states a leg-up when it comes to passing positive marijuana-related laws in the next several years. Incidentally, Shumlin also supports dispensaries, which are not currently a part of Vermont’s medical marijuana law.

Finally, here are the results of some significant local marijuana-related initiatives across the country:

California:
Two of two dispensary bans were defeated in California local elections. Additionally, Kamala Harris is currently maintaining a slim margin of victory over drug-warrior Steve Cooley in the California race for attorney general race.

Massachusetts:
Nine of nine public policy questions asking legislatures to vote in favor of taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol passed. Nine of nine public policy questions asking legislatures to vote in favor of medical marijuana legislation passed.

Colorado:
In 42 cities and counties in the state, voters were asked whether medical marijuana dispensaries should be allowed in their locality. Citizens in eight of these regions voted to allow the dispensaries.

Wisconsin: Two of two referenda asking the Wisconsin legislature to enact medical marijuana legislation passed.