Marijuana Measures Fail

U.S. Marijuana Map

This map shows all of the states in the U.S. which have a medical marijuana program in place, and/or have decriminalized some marijuana charges. - Graphic by J.D. Anderson

California’s Proposition 19 and Oregon’s Measure 74 were roasted in the polls early last week, but supporters of marijuana reform laws are confident that the 2012 elections will deliver better results.

A Gallup national survey released a week prior to Nov. 2 showed that American’s support for legalizing marijuana reached an all-time high at 46 percent, but voters have already defeated three out of four state marijuana reform measures nationwide.

Less than 200,000 ballots remain to be counted in Arizona, where a state proposition to legalize the medical use of marijuana is separated by a one-percent margin in the polls.
South Dakota voters said no to medical marijuana for the second time in four years, and Oregon voters opted not to expand the state’s medical marijuana program to include state-licensed nonprofit dispensaries.

Measure 74 received little support from Oregon voters, and Multnomah County was the only county to pass the measure with 58 percent in favor.  Jackson County voters downed Measure 74 with 62 percent “no” votes and 38 percent in favor, or 19,300 “no” votes to 32,039 “yes” votes.

“It didn’t have to fail,” said Alex Rogers of Ashland Alternative Health in an interview with the Ashland Daily Tidings. “The progressive liberal forces could have organized… and we’d have stomped them into the ground.”

Regardless, the stage is set for fervid campaign and election in 2012 as proponents of marijuana reform go back to the drawing board to re write an initiative that was commonly referred to as confusing and under developed.

For now, Oregon’s medical marijuana laws will remain unchanged. The program allows cardholders to grow up to six mature cannabis plants and 18 immature seedlings, and allows them to possess up to 24 ounces of marijuana.  Currently there are 37,673 cardholders in Oregon with 4,526 of them residing in Jackson County.

In California, once potentially historic, Proposition 19 failed with 46 percent of voters in favor and 54 percent opposed.  A far better result than the 1972 election results in which only 33.5 percent of voters said “yes” to legalizing marijuana use.

According to Gallup polls, American’s support for legalizing marijuana has been on an upward trend since 2004 and has nearly doubled since 1990. There is widespread support for legalization amongst 18-to-29-year-old Americans, according to Gallup, which reports 61 percent of the age group is in favor of legalization. Proponents of marijuana reform laws are counting on a high turnout of young voters in the next election, which will include a vote for the presidency.

“We are already looking forward to achieving major victories in 2012,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “If the trend of the past decade continues at a similar pace, majority support could be a reality in the next few years.”

Opposition toward Proposition 19 grew most notably on Oct. 14 when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he would still “vigorously enforce” the federal ban on possessing, growing, or selling the drug even if the initiative passed.

Overall, the initiative failed in all but 10 of California’s 58 counties; including the marijuana driven economies of Mendocino, Trinity, and Humboldt Counties, which make up the Emerald Triangle.
Proponents of Proposition 19 are certain that it has become an issue of when, not if, legalization of marijuana will happen.

“It’s now undeniable that national public sentiment is increasingly turning against the idea that responsible adults should be criminalized for using a substance less harmful than alcohol,” Kampia said.

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