WASHINGTON — Voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, have voted to approve sweeping pro-marijuana legalization.
The Oregon law, which a majority of voters approved on Tuesday, legalizes personal possession, manufacture and sale of marijuana for people 21 years of age and older.
Mimicking similar plans in Washington state and Colorado, the Oregon law also will create a commercial regulatory system for the production, distribution and sale of marijuana. Pro-marijuana activists heralded the victory as “huge” on Tuesday as it was passed with 54 percent support.
“It’s always an uphill battle to win a marijuana legalization initiative in a year like this, when young people are so much less likely to vote, which makes today’s victory all the sweeter,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The pace of reform is accelerating, other states are sure to follow, and even Congress is poised to wake from its slumber.”
The District of Columbia’s measure, which passed with nearly 65 percent of the vote, allows for a person 21 years old and older to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana for personal use and grow up to six cannabis plants in their home. It also allows people to transfer up to one ounce of marijuana to another person, but not sell it.
Alaska’s law, which was leading 52 percent to 48 percent with nearly 97 percent of precincts reporting, is similar to Oregon and would tax and regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana, making the use legal for people over 21 years old.
In 2013, according to Gallup, more Americans supported legalization than those who opposed it. Just 14 years earlier, those who opposed it had over a 2-to-1 advantage. A 2014 Pew Research poll found 54 percent of Americans supported making marijuana legal.
Ever since voters in Colorado and Washington allowed the sale of legalized marijuana in 2014 (after voters decided to legalize in 2012), the push for more marijuana legalization has become a popular nationwide effort.
The laws in Oregon and Alaska are similar to what Colorado and Washington state passed and would allow recreational sale and taxation of the drug.
Not all news was positive, however, for marijuana activists.
Voters in Florida gave the thumbs down to medical marijuana in the the Sunshine State earlier in the night.
The measure — which is one of many on ballots in 2014 — would have legalized the use of medical marijuana in Florida and would have tasked the state’s Department of Health with regulating it.Marijuana activists, while disappointed by the loss in Florida, were upbeat about their cause.
“While it’s disappointing that patients in Florida won’t be able to find legal relief with marijuana just yet, tonight’s result does show that a clear majority of voters in the sunshine state support a new direction,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. “We didn’t get the 60 percent needed to pass medical marijuana as a constitutional amendment, but patients and their supporters will keep pushing until the law reflects what most voters want.”