We've covered the two-out-three victories for the statewide marijuana legalization initiatives and we've covered the medical marijuana initiative victory in Massachusetts, but there was more going on as well. Here's the rundown on other drug policy-related issues that were on the ballot Tuesday. The results were definitely a mixed bag.
California's Proposition 36 won easily, pulling 68.6% of the vote, according to semi-official results. (Final official results are due by December 7.) It will reform the state's three strikes law, which allows a life sentence for a third felony conviction and has resulted in people getting life sentences for drug possession, theft of a pizza, and similar trivial offenses.
The measure will allow life sentences only if the new felony conviction is "serious or violent," authorize re-sentencing for lifers if their third conviction is not "serious or violent" and if a judge determines their release would not pose an unreasonable risk to public safety, allow life sentences if the third conviction was for "certain non-serious, non-violent sex or drug offenses or involved firearm possession," and keep the life sentence for felons whose previous convictions were for rape, murder, or child molestation. Now, some 3,000 three strikes lifers could seek reductions.
Medical Marijuana -- Two Statewide Initiatives Lose
While Massachusetts voters made the Bay State the 18th medical marijuana state Tuesday, things didn't go as well in Arkansas and Montana.
Passage of Arkansas' Issue 5, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, would have made it the first state in the south to embrace medical marijuana, but while it came achingly close, it was not to be. According to official figures with 64 out of 75 counties reporting Wednesday morning, Issue 5 was losing, 48.5% to 51.5%.
In Montana, medical marijuana advocates hoped to overturn the conservative legislature's gutting of the state's medical marijuana law with Initiative Referendum 124, which required voters to vote "yes" to endorse the legislature's changes. But according to official figures with about eight out of 10 precincts reporting Wednesday morning, the initiative won -- and medical marijuana lost -- by a margin of 56.5% to 43.5%.
Detroit Legalizes! And Other Michigan Local Initiatives Win
Michigan local initiatives ran the full spectrum of marijuana reform issues, with limited legalization on the ballot in Detroit and Flint, decriminalization on the ballot in Grand Rapids, making marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority on the ballot in Ypsilanti, and medical marijuana dispensary regulation on the ballot in Kalamazoo. They all won.
Detroit's Measure M, which legalizes the possession of up to an ounce on private property, won with 65% of the vote with 100% of precincts reporting, while the Flint measure was winning with 60% of the vote. Decriminalization in Grand Rapids also pulled 60%, while Kalamazoo embraced up to three dispensaries by a ratio of two-to-one, and Ypsilanti's lowest priority initiative won with a whopping 74%.
Massachusetts Local Questions Continue Perfect Record
For more than a decade, Massachusetts activists have used the tactic of the non-binding public policy question in legislative districts to demonstrate support for marijuana law reform. The questions have ranged from medical marijuana to decriminalization to legalization, and none have ever lost. This year, in districts representing one-fifth of the electorate, all the questions were about legalization, and again, they all won.
"Shall the State Senator/Representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow the state to regulate and tax marijuana in the same manner as alcohol?" -- won with 69% in the 2nd Middlesex Senate District, 71% in the Middlesex and Suffolk Senate District, and 72% in the 2nd Berkshire State Representative District.
"Shall the state Senator/Representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress to repeal the federal prohibition of marijuana so that states may regulate it as they choose?" -- won with 54% in the 22nd Middlesex State Representative District, 65% in the Essex and Middlesex Senate District, and 66% in 8th Essex State Representative District.
California -- San Diego County Towns Block Dispensary Regulation
[Editor's Note: We originally got these San Diego results backward, reporting that the initiatives had won.They didn't.]
According to semi-official San Diego county results, grass roots initiatives to permit and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries were voted down. Opponents won with 56% of the vote in Del Mar, 60% in Imperial Beach and Lemon Grove, 62% in, and 63% in Solana Beach.
Colorado -- Larimer County Dispensary Battles
Last year, Fort Collins residents voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, prompting advocates to put the issue back on the ballot this year. According to official Larimer County results, dispensaries will be back, winning 55% to 45%.
It was a different story in the town of Berthoud, where official results had the dispensary ordinance losing, 43% to 57%.
Of course, given the victory of Amendment 64, this could all be moot now.