Ballot Measures

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California Cities Approve Marijuana Taxes, Reject Dispensary Bans

Californians may not be quite ready to legalize marijuana, but they're eager to tax it. Local ballot measures to tax medical marijuana (or recreational pot, if Prop 19 had passed) passed overwhelmingly in several Bay Area cities, while voters in two coastal cities rejected measures to ban dispensaries.

marijuana money talks
In Sacramento, voters approved a measure to tax medical marijuana businesses at 4% passed with 71% of the vote. In San Jose, a 10% marijuana tax was approved with 78% of the vote. In Oakland, a measure raising the marijuana tax from 1.8% to 5% passed with 70% of the vote.

In Berkeley, voters approved a 2.5% medical marijuana tax with 82% of the vote a measure to allow licensed gardens with 64% of the vote. Richmond approved a 5% medical marijuana tax with 78% of the vote, while Albany approved a pot business tax with 83% of the vote.

Outside the Bay Area, Stockton approved a 2.5% medical marijuana business tax with 66% of the vote, and 72% of Long Beach voters approved a tax on recreational pot sales. In the Los Angeles suburb of La Puente, voters approved separate measures to tax medical and recreational marijuana. In the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova, voters approved a measure requiring all marijuana grows to pay up to $600 per square foot for grows up to 25 square feet and approved a tax on recreational pot with 67% of the vote.

California NORML
called the Rancho Cordova grow tax "excessive," and Americans for Safe Access said it does not consider the passage of measures to tax medical marijuana "any sort of victory whatsoever." Increasing medical marijuana taxes is "absolutely unacceptable and will ultimately burden patients at the point of sale," the group said.

Measures to ban dispensaries failed in Santa Barbara, 39% to 61%, and in Morro Bay, 45% to 55%.

CA
United States

Marijuana Ballot Questions Win in Massachusetts (Again)

Massachusetts State House
Continuing a pattern of successful non-binding ballot questions on marijuana reform in Massachusetts, voters in 18 Bay State districts approved questions calling on representatives to support pot legalization or medical marijuana. That means MassCann and the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts have now won 63 of 63 such ballot measures since they started in 2000.

Voters in nine districts approved a question directing their representatives to support medical marijuana, winning by a total of 59% to 41%. That brings the total of state representative ballot questions approving medical marijuana to 20, as well as two state senate districts.

Voters in eight state house districts and one state senate district approved a ballot question directing their representatives to support marijuana legalization. The passed with an average of 61% approval.

The public policy ballot question campaign is laying the groundwork for passage of medical marijuana and/or marijuana decriminalization or legalization in the near future. They have established a clear record of voter approval for marijuana law reform in Massachusetts.

MA
United States

We'll Be Back, Prop 19 Proponents and Allies Vow in Press Conference [FEATURE]

According to final numbers from the California secretary of state, Proposition 19 picked up more than 3.4 million votes even as it lost 46.1% to 53.9%. At a teleconference Wednesday, Prop 19 backers were declaring victory even as they acknowledged they hadn't gone over the top this year. And they announced that they weren't going away.

Dale Jones speaks with reporters Tuesday night
"We won," said former Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray. "The implementation of Prop 19 will be delayed, but the ultimate outcome is not in doubt. I'm encouraged that the end is in sight. Let's get at it!" he declared.

"The l-word has become acceptable," said former LAPD Deputy Chief Steve Downing. "You saw and heard a public debate the likes of which has never been heard in California or the nation. Change requires both compassion and enlightened self interest. The campaign has a good measure of both. Cannabis prohibition is an unjust law, it does more harm than good, and we have finally debunked prohibitionist scare tactics to the point all they had left was to attack the mechanics of the initiative itself," Downing said.

The initiative was attacked by opponents on the right as poorly written and leading to "chaos" because it allowed cities and counties to decide whether to permit, tax, and regulate marijuana in their jurisdictions. It was also attacked within the marijuana movement itself for a number of reasons, though most drug policy reformers regarded the reasons as spurious or reflecting self interest by persons in the medical marijuana trade.

"We have a path forward to make this happen and we will continue this coalition," said Dale Sky Jones, spokesperson for Yes on 19. "I'm very excited about the results from Prop 19. We have a tremendous electorate behind us. This is a matter of not if but when, and we are looking forward to working with state officials to craft new language. We want to bring the opposition to the table," she said. "We are looking for their plan, and we will hold them accountable."

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) played a prominent role in the Prop 19 campaign, and former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper was on the teleconference to assure listeners that LEAP will continue to work with Prop 19 proponents in the future.

Election Night proponents gathering, Oakland
"Police are on the front line of the war on cannabis and are paying a large price in terms of strained police-community relations," he said. "I will encourage them and politicians to say out loud what they have been whispering, that it is time to end marijuana prohibition. They know that the drug war has failed and that cannabis prohibition in particular is a costly absurdity. I will encourage them to move forward from whispered support to full-throated support for ending this prohibition," Stamper vowed.

"I was among those who tried to discourage Richard Lee a year and a half ago from going forward in 2010," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, whose political action committee raised more than a million dollars for the campaign. "But he was right. Even if this did not prevail on Election Day, the transformation of the public dialogue nationally and internationally has been stupendous. It has provided an opportunity for leaders in Latin America to say we need a discussion. There has been a transformation in the public dialogue and media coverage unlike anything before. Prop 19 got more votes than Meg Whitman or Carly Fiorina. This is a major, major victory," he declared.

It is on to 2012, said Nadelmann. Marijuana legalization initiatives could be on the ballot in up to five states, he said.

"California looks good in 2012, and so do Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Nevada," Nadelmann prognosticated. "We will go forward where more than 50% of the population support it. The defeat at the polls was a mere bump in the road compared to the positive discussion and the opening up of the debate on marijuana."

Separately, California NORML, which endorsed Prop 19, agreed that legalization is just a matter of time, but that obstacles remain. "It's not a question of whether marijuana will be legalized, but when and how," said CANORML coordinator Dale Gieringer.  "The Prop 19 campaign deserves credit for putting legalization on the map, and for attracting important new allies to the movement.  This campaign has shown there is an emerging majority for legalization in California.  However, it remains to be seen whether an initiative can be written that could attract majority support given the obstacles of federal opposition."

If the California legislature fails to act, marijuana legalization will be back on the ballot, most likely in 2012. Proponents are already working on crafting new language based on the election results, and there are plenty of ideas out there. At least four initiative proposals were floated for this year's election. Now, it's a matter of uniting the movement for the best language possible and crafting language that blunts the opposition's most effective messages.

Oakland, CA
United States

Medical Marijuana: A New National Landscape for Patients

 

Yesterday was a hard day for medical marijuana advocates across the country.  We defeated several local initiatives banning dispensaries in California and Colorado and (fingers crossed) our "NotCooley" campaign provided the narrow margin necessary to ensure victory for California Attorney General-Elect Kamala Harris.  But voters rejected statewide medical marijuana initiatives in Arizona, Oregon and South Dakota, while measures to increase taxes on medicine in California won.   And of course, the US House of Representatives is now in the hands of dangerous politicians who do not share our vision of safe access.
 
We have never had so much to lose and our fight begins today!  It is more important than ever that we work together to protect the gains we've made and fight even harder for what we know is possible.  Americans for Safe Access (ASA) needs your support now more than ever.
 
The national landscape for medical marijuana has changed, but our course remains the same. Since 2006, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has been working full time in Washington, DC to: 1) Put an end to federal interference with state medical marijuana laws, 2) End the ban on clinical research, and 3) Create a plan to guarantee safe access for the entire nation. That work is ongoing and we will not stop until all Americans have safe and legal access.
 
But we cannot do this alone. This year, I traveled all over the country to meet patients and advocates and I am deeply moved by your commitment to safe access.  Unfortunately, I am also shocked by how few of you engage regularly with your federal representatives.  If you are not meeting with them, then they are only hearing about medical cannabis from our opposition.
 
These election results mean we need to fight harder!  With your help, ASA can be ready for new challenges and bigger victories.  Together we can stand up to our opponents in Congress and prepare for 2012 and beyond.   Can you make a contribution to ASA today, so that we can keep fighting?

We must be our own liberators; no one is going to do our work for us.
  
Republican Party control of the House of Representatives may make our work more difficult, and that’s why it is more important than ever that ASA bring an educated and empowered constituency with real solutions to the table. We have to show the new Congress that patients’ voices cannot be ignored! That is the only way we will get policymakers to bridge the divide between federal and state laws regarding medical marijuana.
 
ASA will continue to work on Capitol Hill and with the Administration to improve the federal government's understanding about medical marijuana, as well as both the immediate and long term needs of our members. We may have lost several battles yesterday, but we have not lost the fight by any means. We’ve become used to working hard to defy the odds, but we need your supportright now to keep making a positive difference in the lives of patients.
 
Join the fight today and help us make that difference!
 
Steph Sherer
Executive Director

Americans for Safe Access

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Wisconsin Medical Marijuana Advisory Referenda Pass

Voters in Dane County (Madison), Wisconsin, and the city of River Falls both approved medical marijuana advisory referenda Tuesday. The non-binding measures are aimed at building political support for passage of a medical marijuana bill in the state legislature.

2009 demonstration by "Is My Medicine Legal Yet?" (IMMLY)
In Dane County, the medical marijuana advisory referendum won with an impressive 75.5% of the vote. That made it more popular than any of the candidates running for election in the county. It also won all of the wards of state Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Beaver Dam).

In River Falls, where an advisory referendum on medical marijuana was spearheaded by Alderman Bob Hughes, the measure passed with 68% of the vote.

But the prospects for passage of a medical marijuana bill in the legislature are tough. Advocates will be faced with a hostile Republican governor, Scott Walker, a hostile attorney general in JB Van Hollen, and a state legislature now in the hands of Republicans. Arch-medical marijuana nemesis Leah Vukmir won a state Senate seat and will likely chair a key health committee.

Still, voters in two Wisconsin jurisdictions have put legislators on notice that medical marijuana is a winning issue.

WI
United States

2010 Election Results

Donate Header Results

 

 

Dear friends:

Yesterday voters turned out across the nation to vote on a number of marijuana-related initiatives, including four major statewide initiatives. Here are 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.

We've all seen the election results by now, and while some may feel disappointed, I believe now is the time for us to look ahead.  2012 is closer than it seems, and with marijuana-related issues now firmly entrenched in the national consciousness we have an opportunity to forge ahead and make 2012 the most successful year we've ever experienced.  But we can't do it alone.

Of the nearly 100,000 people who will receive this email today, less than 6,000 have donated to MPP's work so far this year.  If you and the other 94,000 people who have not yet donated each gave just $10 to MPP today, we would generate nearly $1,000,000.  That's money that we can put directly toward ending marijuana prohibition sooner, rather than later.

Ending marijuana prohibition is a matter of 'when,' not 'if' and every dollar you donate helps bring that 'when' closer to today.

Sincerely,

Rob Kampia signature (master)

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

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Hard Day for Medical Marijuana Initiatives

Update: Please see an important bulletin including an action alert for Arizonans that we published on Wednesday.

It was a tough night for medical marijuana, with two state initiatives losing decisively and a third trailing slightly very late in the game.

In Arizona, Proposition 203, which would create a tightly regulated medical marijuana dispensary system, was trailing in a very close race, with 49.74% of the vote to 50.26% against, in unofficial results from the secretary of state. The AZ Secretary of State's office reports that 100% of precincts have turned in their ballot counts. However, as an email from the initiative's main sponsor, the Marijuana Policy Project, pointed out Wednesday, there are 200,000-300,000 mail-in ballots estimated to have arrived at polling stations or elections offices in the final hours of the campaign, as well as "provisional" ballots cast by people whose residency was in dispute at the polls on Election Day. If 52% of those ballots have Yes on 203 votes in them -- more than the statewide average, but not radically -- Prop 203 would pull ahead.

Oregon's Measure 74 would have expanded the state's existing medical marijuana program by allowing for a system of state-regulated, nonprofit dispensaries and grow operations. According to official figures, it lost 42% to 58%.

South Dakota's Measure 13 would have created a tightly restrictive medical marijuana program, with no dispensaries and a list of specified ailments and conditions. According to unofficial figures from the secretary of state, it lost 37% to 63%.

None of the medical marijuana campaigns have yet reacted publicly to Tuesday's results. Look for a Chronicle feature article exploring what went wrong in the near future.

No Marijuana Legalization in California This Year

California's Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative, has been defeated. A little over two hours after the polls closed at 8 pm Pacific Time, the measure is trailing 44% to 56% with 25% of the votes counted, but even the campaign is conceding the loss.

As the polls closed, Oaksterdam waited
"We appreciate the tremendous victory in pushing this issue forward," said Dale Jones, Yes on 19 spokesperson. "We've taken this further than ever before. It's just a matter of taking the next step forward," she told the crowd inside Oaksterdam University, with the video also being projected onto the university's great wall for a crowd of hundreds outside. "We made this happen. This the debate heard 'round the world," she said.

"We are going to keep fighting," Richard Lee said. "We made big breakthroughs with this campaign, with all the allies we've gotten on board," before thanking those arrayed on the stage behind him, including Dan Rush of the UFCW, LEAP, the Drug Policy Alliance's Steve Gutwillig and Ethan Nadelmann, East Bay activist couple Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, NORML's Allen St. Pierre, a pair of phone bank volunteers, campaign figures Jeff and Dale Jones, and even his mom and dad.

"We have a coalition moving forward, you have not seen the last of the group that brought you Prop 19," Jones said.

"We are going to stay here and keep building," said Rush. "We are going to continue this fight together and across the nation. Next time we're going to take Colorado and Michigan. We're going to keep riding this train.

"This is a watershed moment in a very long struggle to end the decades-long failure of marijuana prohibition in this country," said DPA's Steve Gutwillig. "Tonight was an enormous step in placing this movement in the mainstream of American politics. That's what happened tonight."

Gutwillig vowed that two to five legalization initiatives will be on the ballot in 2012. "Marijuana prohibition is going down," he said.

Maybe in 2012.

CA
United States

Arizona Inching Up, Will It Make It?

With 82% of precincts reporting, Prop 203 to legalize medical marijuana is behind, 49.7%-50.3%. An hour or two ago it was as low as 49.3%. Where the precincts that have yet to report are located makes all the difference, and we don't know where those are. Of course, the closer the reporting percentage gets to 100%, the harder it is to make up the difference.

This could happen, but it's pretty iffy at this point. I'm still hoping for victory, but no longer predicting the outcome one way or the other as I did earlier tonight. Use the nytimes.com page I linked to above, if you want to check the numbers before I post again.

Update: Please see a more complete analysis we published on Wednesday, which includes an action alert for Arizonans.

Statement from Richard Lee, Prop 19 Proponent

OAKLAND, CA -- In response to the voting results on Proposition 19, the California ballot measure to control and tax marijuana, Prop. 19 proponent Richard Lee released the following statement:

"The fact that millions of Californians voted to legalize marijuana is a tremendous victory. We have broken the glass ceiling. Prop. 19 has changed the terms of the debate. And that was a major strategic goal.

"Over the course of the last year, it has become clear that the legalization of marijuana is no longer a question of if but a question of when. Because of this campaign, millions now understand it's time to develop an exit strategy for the failed war on marijuana. Across the state our opponents, including many newspaper editorial boards that failed to properly understand Prop. 19, repeatedly stated that their quibbles were not with legalization in general. When we come back with a new initiative in 2012, there will be a seat at the table for all of these new stakeholders. And we will be coming back, stronger than ever.

"With limited resources this time around we were able to build an enormously powerful coalition of cops and moms, law professors and civil rights leaders, liberals and libertarians, conservatives and unions; all hungry for change. For the first time we were able to unite in favor of legalization. Groups like the National Black Police Association, the National Latino Officers Association, the California Council of Churches IMAPCT, California NAACP, SEIU of California, United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, members of the U.S. Congress, local Democratic party committees, state legislators and many, many individual law enforcers, faith leaders, civil rights activists, students, professors of law and business leaders said it's time for a new beginning. This coalition will only continue to grow in size and strength as we prepare for 2012.

"Even the establishment was divided. While Senator Dianne Feinstein lent her name to the opposition, others, realizing that legalization is on its way, got in front of the message. When Gov. Schwarzenegger signed SB 1449, the bill reducing marijuana offenses to an infraction, a few weeks ago, it was a clear concession to the power of the legalization movement and a recognition of the obvious failure of our marijuana laws. This singular change in law, brought about by the momentum of our campaign, will protect tens of thousands of Californians from arrest each and every year. It will save California taxpayers money, and it will make our streets safer. But it's only a start, and there's much more work to be done.

"And the American public will help bring about this change. A Gallup poll released just a few days ago found record support for legalization across the country, with 46 percent saying they think marijuana use 'should be made legal.' That's a bigger result than Gallup has ever recorded in its 40-year history asking this question.

"The issue is generational. Fully 70 percent of 18-29 year-olds are in favor of legalization. And, many of the biggest contributors to the campaign were younger and based in Silicon Valley, representing a changing of the guard of political influence and leadership. With the help of our coalition, many of these new leaders are going to bring about the change that is now inevitable. Inspired by the momentum we've generated with Prop 19 here in California, we're beginning to see other states gearing up for legalization efforts, both via ballot initiative in states like Washington, Nevada and Colorado, and in the state legislature in places like Rhode Island.

"And so, while we didn't bring in enough votes tonight to pass Prop. 19, we know that we have achieved an enormous moral victory, and that there are millions of people across the country who are prepared to help finish the job they started here today when we come back to the polls stronger than ever in 2012."

Location: 
Oakland, CA
United States

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