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FACT FILE: Recreational marijuana ballot issues

October 29, 2014
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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Alaska—Measure 2

Alaska legalized medical marijuana—not recreational—in 1998. The proposed measure up for a vote November 4 would allow any adult age 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and up to six plants. It would also tax and regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana. The tax revenue is the attractive pro, while the uncertainty of long-term social, safety and public-health effects remains the con. For example, in Colorado—where recreational use is already legal—marijuana edibles have led to overdoses because of unknown concentrations in the products individuals are ingesting. Observers appear to be pessimistic that the amendment will pass.

 

Oregon—Measure 91

The measure would allow adults over age 21 possession of up to 8 ounces of marijuana and up to four plants. It also authorizes in-state manufacture, processing and sale of marijuana by and to adults. It has provisions for licensing, regulation and taxation by state, while at the same time retains Oregon’s current medical marijuana laws. More than $2.4 million in support of the initiative came from the Drug Policy Alliance, which has long advocated decriminalization and legalization measures. Observers appear to be optimistic on its passing.

 

Washington, D.C.—Initiative 71

This summer, the D.C. Council approved a sweeping marijuana decriminalization law. It made possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana punishable by a $25 fine. Passage of Initiative 71 at the polls next week would take the more aggressive step of legalizing up to 2 ounces of marijuana for adults 21 and over and would allow cultivation of three marijuana plants in their homes. The proposed legalization initiative in the District does not address taxation and regulation because the D.C. Council is not allowed to consider a bill that would involve taxation. However, it appears to make sense for the bill to target enforcement problems because of enormous racial disparities in marijuana arrests: 91% of those targeted by police for marijuana arrests in the District are African-Americans. Initiative 71—which polled at 65% support in September—has a 60-day congressional review period. If Congress takes no action, the initiative will go into effect at that time.

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