Feature: Big Day for Pot -- Decriminalization Wins in Massachusetts, Medical Marijuana in Michigan, All Local Initiatives Win, Too!

Barack Obama wasn't the only big winner in Tuesday elections; marijuana polled just as well, if not better. A medical marijuana initiative in Michigan -- the first in the Midwest -- and a decriminalization initiative in Massachusetts both won by convincing margins, and scattered local initiatives on various aspects of marijuana policy reform all won, too.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/cannabisplants.jpg
marijuana plants
In both the statewide initiatives, reform forces overcame organized opposition on their way to victory, mostly from the usual suspects in law enforcement and the political establishment. Michigan enjoyed the dubious distinction of a visit from John Walters, the drug czar himself, who popped in to rail against medical marijuana as "an abomination."

"We could be seeing a sea change in more ways than one in this election," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which backed both state initiatives. "These are not just wins, but huge wins. In two very blue states, marijuana reform outpolled Barack Obama. At this point, we can look members of Congress in the eye and ask them why exactly they think marijuana reform is controversial."

The results are also an indicator of the decreasing influence of the drug czar's office, said Mirken. "A clear public mandate has emerged, and it's particularly noteworthy coming as it does after eight years of the most intense anti-marijuana campaign from the feds since the days of Reefer Madness," he said. "Despite all the press releases and press conferences, despite all the appearances and campaigning Walters has done to try to convince Americans that marijuana is some sort of scourge, the voters just said no."

In Michigan, the medical marijuana initiative organized by the local Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care and backed in a big way by MPP won a resounding 63% of the vote. Michigan's new medical marijuana law will go into effect quickly -- ten days after the elections are certified, with the Department of Community Health having 120 additional days to come up with regulations for a registry.

The law will allow patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and other conditions to obtain a doctors' recommendation to cultivate, grow, and possess marijuana without fear of prosecution under state law. Registered patients may possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and have up to 12 plants in a secure indoor facility, or they may designate a caregiver to grow it for them.

"Michigan voters have clearly signaled in no uncertain terms their support for a compassionate medical marijuana law," the committee said in a victory statement Tuesday night. "Our opposition threw the kitchen sink at us, hoping one of their false claims and outright lies would cost enough votes to tank this effort. But Michigan voters saw through the deception, and soon numerous seriously ill patients across the state will no longer need to live in fear for taking their doctor-recommended medicine."

Tuesday's win makes Michigan the 13th medical marijuana state, and, more importantly, the first one in the Midwest. The Michigan victory means planned or ongoing efforts in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois just got a little easier.

In Massachusetts, Question 2, the marijuana decriminalization initiative, overcame the opposition of every district attorney in the state to win a resounding 65% of the vote. Now, instead of an arrest and possible six months in jail, people in the Bay State caught with less than an ounce of marijuana will face a simple $100 fine. Equally importantly, small-time possession offenders will not be saddled with a Criminal Record Information Report (CORI), a state arrest report that lingers long after the offense and can impede an offender's ability to obtain jobs, housing, and school loans.

Again backed by MPP, the Bay State's Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy (CSMP) took the organizing lead in Massachusetts this year. Building on nearly a decade's worth of winning local questions on marijuana policy reform by groups like the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts and the state NORML affiliate, MassCann/NORML, the committee was able to go over the top statewide with decrim this year.

"It's great to see the people of Massachusetts were able to see what a sensible, modest proposal Question 2 is," said CSMP head Whitney Taylor. "It's going to end the creation of thousands of new people being involved in the criminal justice system each year and refocus law enforcement resources on violent crime."

While some prosecutors are already whining about having to implement the will of the voters, there appears little chance that legislators will attempt to step in and overturn the vote, as they could do under Massachusetts law. A spokesman for House Speaker Sal DiMasi told local WBZ-TV as much Wednesday afternoon.

"Question 2 now has the force of law and the Speaker sees no reason to consider a repeal or amendment at this time," said David Guarino, DiMasi's deputy chief of staff.

Statewide decrim wasn't the only marijuana-related issue on the ballot for some Massachusetts voters. Continuing the tradition of placing questions on representative district ballots, voters in four districts were asked: "Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow seriously ill patients, with their doctor's written recommendation, to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for their personal medical use?"

As with past medical marijuana questions, the question passed overwhelmingly in all four districts.

The question passed with 74% In the 1st Middlesex Representative District (R – Robert S. Hargraves), 71% in the 21st Middlesex Representative District (D – Charles A. Murphy), 73% in the 13th Norfolk Representative District (D – Lida E. Harkins), and 71% in the 6th Plymouth Representative District (R – Daniel K. Webster).

Meanwhile, in other local marijuana-related initiatives:

  • Berkeley, California's, Measure JJ, essentially a zoning initiative that would allow dispensaries operating in the city to expand into more non-residential districts, won with 62% of the vote. The campaign was organized by Citizens for Sensible Medical Cannabis Regulation.
  • In Hawaii County, Hawaii (the Big Island), a lowest law enforcement priority initiative for adult marijuana possession won with 66% of the vote. The campaign organized by Project Peaceful Skies was an outgrowth of the movement to end intrusive marijuana eradication raids.
  • In Fayetteville, Arkansas, another lowest priority initiative passed. Some 62% of voters in the Northwest Arkansas college town agreed with Sensible Fayetteville and its director, Ryan Denham, that police had better things to do than bust pot smokers. Sensible Fayetteville itself is an umbrella organization including the Alliance for Drug Reform Policy in Arkansas, The Omni Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology, the Green Party of Washington County, University of Arkansas NORML and the Alliance for Reform of Drug Policy in Arkansas Inc.

"We think these election results send an extremely important message," Denham told the Northwest Arkansas Times Wednesday. "I'm not surprised since national statistics say that 70% of Americans feel that misdemeanor marijuana offenses should be a low priority. It clogs courts and jails and puts a burden on taxpayer resources."

Election day was a good day for marijuana reform. Let's hope that activists and politicians alike are now prepared to press for more in the near future.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Let's Get Rolling in Texas!!!

I applaud all the results and hope we can begin sweeping change across this country to create sensible laws for pot! People in Texas don't have ballot inititive options, so we must continue to let our representatives know we want CHANGE!!!!!!!

Texas laws

Let's get to it!

What about Connecticut?

connecticut really needs some help. thats all.

Extreme Pacifist's picture

The People Have Spoken

The people have spoken in the 2008 election, and they have stated loudly that marijuana use is to be accepted and not to be treated as a crime.
http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/559/marijuana_initiatives_win
A medical marijuana initiative in Michigan -- the first in the Midwest -- and a decriminalization initiative in Massachusetts both won by convincing margins, and scattered local initiatives on various aspects of marijuana policy reform all won, too.
It's high time for all states as well as the federal government to decriminalize marijuana and end the unwinnable and costly "War on Drugs".
Stop the Drug War:
http://stopthedrugwar.org/home
Even law enforcement agents are active in ending the senseless war on drugs,. Take a look:
http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php

The people in power at the highest levels of business and government will not go quietly into the night, because some of them are actually responsible for the illegal drug problem in the USA and around the world.

The CIA's Involvement in Drug Trafficking

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5b6kf5PIzX4
The same can be said about the war on terror, and the war on illegal immigration, as well as the war on crime in general.
Remember their modus operandi: Problem, Reaction, Solution.
http://www.prisonplanet.com/
http://www.rense.com/
http://federaljack.com/

carry over laws

Can we rewrite the laws so we can visit our family members living in other marijuana states?

now they decrim pot

wish this happened a few years ago in Mass, cost me a good job and a x wife!!!!

Time to Push for Complete Legalization of Marijuana

======================================
Time to Push for Complete Legalization of Marijuana
======================================

Now is not the time to savor our recent victory. It is time to push forward to the final victory: Re-Legalizing Marijuana for ALL Adults in America.

And I believe we can force Obama to act by pointing out the following:

(1) Anyone that want Marijuana has been able to get it despite the Marijuana Tax Act, the Controlled Substances act etc.
(2) While Re-Legalization will screw a lot of lawyers, drug testing labs and the wider Prison Industrial Complex the benefits are quite obvious. Re-Legalization will decimate the drug gangs and drug cartels which are importing violence and corruption along the Mexican American border.
(3) Re-Legalization is a good faith gesture to rebalance some of the liberties that have been lost in the wake of the Patriot Act and other legislation that has significantly reduced our liberites.
(4) Every study, La Guardia onward, has concluded that Marijuana is benign compared to most other legal and illegal drugs and therefore does not deserve to be prohibited.

The American People have been marginalized by the Corporate Cabal for far too long. The time to push forward, toward complete victory begins on January 1st 2009. Much more to come.

In the meantime please take 30 minutes to listen to Bruce W. Cain discuss "Marijuana: Past, Present and Future." This is the beginning of the end for Marijuana Prohibition. And it needs to occur now.

Watch as one video:
http://www.vimeo.com/2056650

legalization of marijuana

As a 52 year old woman, I STILL can't understand what all the "hoopla" is about marijuana!! We treat the weed likes it's heroin, or some other "hopeless" drug. We are able to drink in access (unless caught or in a crash), able to take "prescribed" medicines that are necessary, yet, we treat weed like it's "poisonous" and will lead to SO MANY OTHER TERRIBLE THINGS.Either the government is making money on keeping it illigal (which is all too obvious), or the government is just plain STUPID, compared to the laws people must follow in order to get relief of "some" kind when faced with cancer, glaucoma,any stomach related illnesses, or even just to smoke before bedtime if you can't sleep. (But, THEN, the OTC medicines for sleeplessness wouldn't bring the drug's manufacturer's money would it???) WAKE UP!!! It's not the devil itself! It's a homegrown, natural, medicinal plant that can help rather than hurt. It's only when people abuse it that it can be anything other than that!! It's just been to "scary" for any "suit" to even handle THINKING ABOUT at work, while at the same time, they are probably puffing away at home, as long as the John Q.Publics don't find out about it. Geez Louise, WAKE UP PEOPLE. Mariujuana should be legal in EVERY state!

Unjustified arrest = kidnapping

Nice to hear of successes in asking the tyrants for permission to change our consciousness as we desire. What's really needed though is to start considering arrest for any behavior between consenting adults to be kidnapping, no matter WHAT the so-called "law" says about it. Adults own their bodies, and may do anything whatsoever with them they desire, as long as they do not directly harm a non-consenting other. No government entity has the authority to limit this in any way.

I want to see trials for kidnapping of every narc in the country. And, when the juries vote unanimously to convict, lethal injections, or at least life in prison without the possibility of parole. Kidnapping is a very serious offense.

5 years in maximum security prison would be fair!

You're absolutely right.... the law enforcement agencies that have been tasked with committing the high crimes of the prohibitionists should be held accountable for their numerous illegal acts... such as alienating us from our inalienable rights.

Perhaps we can get the word to the Prison Guards that operate our nations infamous Prison Industrial Complex that they, like thousands of defense lawyers, should not fear for their jobs.

Once the 10's of thousands of citizens that have been unlawfully detained for victimless crimes are reunited with their rights we'll have plenty of room for those truly violent criminals, especially the home invaders, that have been prosecuting illegal marijuana prohibition for the last 70+ years.

It has been suggested by others, and gleefully dwelled on by myself, that when it is time to hold the real criminals responsible that we 'round them up' using the same tactics they employ against us... invade their homes in the early morning hours and 'kidnap them'. I think a minimum mandatory of 5 years in maximum security prison would be fair... it's what any other purjuror would get afterall!

just like getting stoned

Hey if i can get "stoned drunk" then i should be able to just get "stoned"

Abomination

A lot of the Nazis who justified their evil actions by saying, "I was just doing my job," still got hanged.

But I think 6 months to 5 years would be enough time for the morally bankrupt to re-think whether stealing medicine from sick people and sometimes caging them is good or bad.

The real "abomination" is that our tax dollars fund a very real War on our fellow citizens and the Constitution.

Right Reverend Gregory Karl Davis's picture

Right to the tree of life

This Greeting is posted in Jesus Anointed, Ab, Weld, Menfes Qidus, One God. Amen.

The Universal Orthodox will soon open a diocese office in Jamaica to dispense through the Brothers for Mercy, "hemp oil" as termed by Rick Simpson in 'youtube' title "Run from the Cure.

Glad to see those issues

Glad to see those issues pass. Tuesday was a mixed day for me. I'm happy with who was elected, and am always pleased to see decriminalization pass, but I'm a bit depressed by the marriage and adoption legislation in a few states.

Carrie

'what about Connecticut'? The governor singlehandedly stopped it

To answer the above post- medicinal marijuana passed both houses of the CT legislature by strong but not veto proof majorities, but the Republican governor nixed it.

Time to press for an increase in MMJ research funding?

Medical marijuana. It's justified by the results from clinical trials and basic research, it should be popular, and it would be a powerful rebuke to those who have suppressed scientific study of cannabis for more than a generation.
And, make no mistake about it, the prohibition of medical marijuana has been a death sentence to some people.

Hawaii County

Law Enforcement has made every indication they will not be complying with the Ballot Question the people voted for. Shame. They don't seem to understand that the ballot DOES carry the weight of law. We'll see in court. Perhaps some lawsuits are in order for unlawful arrest on the county.

now is the time

never in the past 30 years have we been so close a more sensible drug policy. i feel it is the duty of every voting cannibus user to contact both pres.-elect obama and the more open-minded members of congress to let them know about what is best way to execute change in this nation. they should be receiving copys of jack herer's "the emporer wears no clothes" on a daily basis. taxation and regulation of cannibus may very well turn our souring economy around, as well as free up industrial hemp for ethonal and paper production. we need to make a lot of noise. maybe we can get something accomplished.

So little,so late

It's amazing that the laws you just reformed were exactly what we in Canada just got placed upon us by our born again government.We had what you now have achieved while we have sunk back to where you came from.It was just 30 years ago that the bill decriminalising marijuana was left to die on the parliaments table through a concerted campaign by the then conservative opposition led by Brian Mulroney.Mulroney also spearheaded NAFTA and conned the Canadian government and it's people out of 2.1 million in legal fees in a suit that has been proved to be false and Mulroney guilty.He has as of yet made no offer to return the money.Perhaps once GWB stops relating his conversations with "the lord" to Mr.Harper,we'll see some sanity up here.It has to become increasingly difficult for states with "deeply christian" ethical arguments against even medical marijuana to continue to allow suffering unnecessarily.It actually seems possible that this idiotic drug prohibition may be in it's final century.For those of you in states with draconian drug laws,this is a ray of hope.For those with new reforms passed remember that 30 years ago Canada was about to vote on marijuana decriminalisation.We just had mandatory minimum sentences driven up our collective anuses.

Should be legal period, its

Should be legal period, its OUR choice, not there's! Legalize it nationwide, and turn enough profit to turn around the economy, its not brain science Washington, do yourself a favor and LISTEN to the people for once, you may seem like a hero when all is said and done. Seriously, the people we choose to LEAD this country are a far cry from wise.........Its pathetic. Hopefully Obama will let the states mandate their own drug laws, at least I think he may be that smart, well see.

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