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Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Gear Up in Three States

The race to be the next state to legalize marijuana at the ballot box is on. Activists in three states -- Alaska, Arizona, and Oregon -- have taken initial steps to get the issue before the voters during the 2014 general election.

In Alaska, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell last Friday certified a ballot initiative application that would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults. Backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, the initiative would also set up a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. Adults could grow up to six marijuana plants for their personal use.

Proponents will have one year to gather 30,169 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. But they have to wait a week or so for the state elections division to begin printing the petition booklets.

Alaska already allows for adults to possess small amounts of marijuana in their homes under the state Supreme Court's interpretation of the state constitution's privacy provisions.

In Arizona, Safer Arizona is sponsoring an initiative to amend the state constitution to allow for legal, taxed, and regulated marijuana use and commerce. The group filed the measure last week with the secretary of state. It now must gather 259,213 valid voter signatures by July 3, 2014 to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

Organizers there said it would be a grassroots campaign relying on volunteers. The conventional wisdom for initiatives in high signature-count states is that they require paid signature-gathering efforts to succeed at a rough cost of a dollar or more per signature obtained.

Arizona voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in 2010, but that initiative squeaked through with barely more than 50% of the vote.

In Oregon, Paul Stanford, the controversial proponent of last year's failed marijuana legalization campaign, is back with two more measures, and other activists could file yet a third. Stanford's Oregon Marijuana Tax Act initiative largely echoes the language of last year's underfunded initiative, which picked up 47% of the popular vote, but reworks a contentious provision relating to a commission to regulate marijuana and hemp commerce. Stanford's second initiative would simply legalize the possession and production of pot by adults 21 and over with a proviso that the state could impose regulations.

Stanford's move has inspired other Oregon activists organized as New Approach Oregon to say that they will likely have a better alternative initiative. "Something will be on the ballot," the group's Anthony Johnson told The Oregonian. "Either it's going to be a responsible measure or something not as well-vetted."

Stanford said he will conduct polling on the various measures before moving forward.

If legislators can't get around to legalizing marijuana, activists in initiative states want to let the voters do it for them. That's three states aiming at 2014 so far, and we're still a year and half out from election day.

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I had high hopes for 2013..

Had high hopes for 2013, hoping at least one other state would join CO and WA.. doesn't look like that's gonna be possible.  Maybe 2014 will be different.  It's pretty important in my opinion... I'd hate to see a situation where nothing happens except during the primary elections every 4 years.

borden's picture

It can be a tough call,

It can be a tough call, because of the ways that turnout tends to differ during off years vs. presidential years -- it works more for us during the presidential years. That said, I also agree that waiting four years isn't a great thing either, particularly now when the momentum is with us.

One of the early initiative campaign staffers, Dave Fratello (spokesperson for CA Prop 215, among other things), commented to me last year that in the earlier days, we really didn't want to lose ballot initiatives. Now, we still don't want to lose them and should be playing to win, but losses don't mean the same thing, if we at least do respectably. The issue is advanced enough that Oregon losing with 45%, for example, wasn't a disaster. Instead, it was a decent showing in a difficult situation, 45%!

So, I'm tentatively hoping for some initiatives to be on the ballot next year, although I'd want to see what the research says before definitely hoping. :)

Legalization Battleground States for 2014

Arizona and Oregon are two states among many where medical marijuana is being kept on an endangered species list by demagogues, state legislators and other groups, prompted by Big Pharma, and seeking to make medical marijuana an extinct species. 

The two states, like every other, need complete marijuana legalization and regulation in order to undermine attempts by federal and state authorities seeking to prevent useful and effective herbal medications from reaching American citizens.

Alaska is independently minded, like Washington state, and probably won’t object to legalization.  Arizona may be more difficult.  Arizona authorities will probably embarrass themselves fighting for a lost cause, using an archaic artillery made of transparent lies, if past is prologue.  

It may or may not help Arizonans to consider that there will be blood if they don’t act.  A marijuana legalization initiative would help reduce the killing across the border, as no one in Arizona will ever need to suffer Mexican ditch weed again.

Then again, a xenophobic state government might believe the bloodbath across the border to be a good thing, and further encourage traditional drug war tactics.  As the drug war goes, Arizonans are in a fish bowl.  The citizens will be watching.

Drew B's picture

2010, Costa, "Blessing"

Then again, a xenophobic state government might believe the bloodbath across the border to be a good thing, and further encourage traditional drug war tactics.

It's already been called a "blessing," but for other reasons. In 2010 then U.N. Drug Czar said the deaths in Mexico were a blessing for the U.S., "This struggle is a blessing for the United States because the drought of cocaine generates low levels of addiction, high prices and doses that are less pure."

Powerful people must not have liked that quote since not only is that article gone, but the whole website that hosted it.

26 States

More states putting up ballots for legalization is fantastic. Win or lose, we win because a ballot creates a discussion and advances the argument and politicians are forced to address the issue. 

But medical marijuana is still an important issue approaching a zenith. 

With effectively 19 states with medical marijuana, and more looking into it at the moment, it can't be too long before more than half of US states have legal supply of marijuana for medical purposes. 

Federal law is not going to hold up to that discrepancy and the Federal laws will have to be changed. 

We need more medical marijuana states as well so please support ballot initiatives where ever you are.

Ending the drug war is really serious. People are living a waking nightmare all over the world. Please leave ego's at the door and work together on a singular initiative. We have to get it through. You will save lives.


My name is Anne in Connecticut; I use MMJ as an "appetite stimulant" because I eat a very bland diet..."; I have been reading alot of Testimonies about medicail marijuana during the last 5 years; I have heard everthing from "MS" to "epilspsy in children"; I have heard of people "quitting prescription pan pills etc.

And so my question is:  Is Medical Marijuana a "Miracle Herb "? I say this because I was recently afflicted with a terrible stomach bug; with the headache; chills; tummy upset..."; so I took a few puffs o' the MMJ; and believe me when I tell you I was able to sleep and when I woke up I was all sweaty but I was BETTER!

This is not the first time I have alleviated flu type symptoms by using a few tokes of Medical Marijuana ! !

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