Legalization 2016 — the order of battle

Paul Danish/Sue France

Barring last minute legal thunderbolts, the stage is set for this year’s marijuana legalization initiatives.

Five states — California, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts and Maine — will vote on initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana. Four more states — Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana — will have medical marijuana initiatives on their ballots.

There hasn’t been much in the way of new polling on them recently; but here’s how their prospects look on the strength of polls taken over the summer and news reports from the various states.

The initiatives in two states — Massachusetts and Arizona — are in trouble.

In Massachusetts, a poll released on July 20 found 51 percent of the voters opposed to legalization versus 41 percent in favor.

Earlier polls had shown the initiative ahead, but that was before organized opposition emerged, led by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and a number of other Massachusetts elected officials. The opponents drew business, law enforcement and teachers’ organizations into the anti-legalization effort, and they got a lot of earned media over the summer. They didn’t seem to encounter a lot of push back from the pro-legalization camp, which was focused on completing the process of getting the initiative onto the ballot. Whether the situation can be turned around will likely depend on what sort of a media campaign the pro-legalization side can mount after Labor Day.

In Arizona, the good news is that initiative supporters easily made it onto the ballot, submitting 258,582 signatures, 107,000 more than the minimum needed. The bad news is that a poll published on July 11 showed the measure trailing by 13 percentage points with 52.5 percent opposed. A year earlier polling found 53 percent in favor.

Things aren’t completely bleak in Arizona; supporters are said to have substantial resources available to them and should be able to mount a vigorous campaign.

The initiative with the best chance of passing is the one in California. The legalization measure, Proposition 64 (coincidentally a similar name to Colorado’s successful Amendment 64) was easily petitioned onto the ballot, and at least two polls have found more than 60 percent of those surveyed in favor of it. Supporters have raised $11 million, opponents only $185,000.

The initiative has been endorsed by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Medical Association and the California Democratic Party, among others. The most high profile opponent is Senator Dianne Feinstein.

In Nevada, a poll taken by the Rasmussen organization between July 22-24 found the legalization initiative had a 50 percent to 41 percent lead. The pro-legalization camp has made a $800,000 media buy on Nevada TV stations. So far there has been virtually no activity from the anti-legalization camp, but that is almost certainly misleading. Casino owner and multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is virulently anti-pot, will likely pour millions into an effort to defeat the initiative.

In Maine, a poll taken in mid-May found 55 percent support for legalization. That seems to be the most recent poll. The initiative survived a ham-fisted attempt by the Maine Secretary of State to keep it off the ballot by disqualifying thousands of petition signatures on a technicality; supporters swiftly went to court and won. Beyond that, little is known about how things are going.

On the medical marijuana side, the Florida initiative seems to have a good chance of passing this year. The most recent poll shows 68 percent support. However the initiative needs 60 percent support to pass. In 2014 a similar initiative came close with 58 percent. The pro-legalization campaign is well funded, but the opponents will probably mount a multimillion-dollar attack funded by Adelson, who also funded the successful campaign to kill the 2014 initiative.

In Arkansas, there might be two medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot. A June 21 poll of 751 likely voters found 58 percent support for medical marijuana.

In North Dakota, one of the most socially conservative states in the country, a medical marijuana initiative has been petitioned onto the ballot. One poll appears to show plurality support (at 47 percent) on the issue, but the fact that there was sufficient support to petition it onto the ballot in the first place is in itself noteworthy.

In Montana, an existing medical marijuana initiative was gutted by the legislature. An initiative to restore it made the ballot this year and appears to have strong support.

Chances are there will be an avalanche of polling data and news on all of these initiatives after Labor Day. Stay tuned.

  • Brian Kelly

    Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and glorified as an All American pastime, booze.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Marijuana Nationwide!

    • Brian Kelly

      “Marijuana is 114 times safer than drinking alcohol”

      “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say”

      “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say New study: We should stop fighting marijuana legalization and focus on alcohol and tobacco instead By Christopher Ingraham February 23

      Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

      Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.”

      “The report discovered that marijuana is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Researchers were able to determine this by comparing the lethal doses with the amount of typical use. Through this approach, marijuana had the lowest mortality risk to users out of all the drugs they studied. In fact—because the numbers were crossed with typical daily use—marijuana is the only drug that tested as “low risk.”

      • Brian Kelly

        The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

        Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

        The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

        Marijuana is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

        Even The President of the United States has consumed marijuana. Has it hurt his chances at succeeding in life? If he had gotten caught by the police during his college years, he may have very well still been in prison today! Beyond that, he would then be fortunate to even be able to find a minimum wage job that would consider hiring him with a permanent criminal record. Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

        The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

        Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

        Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

        • Brian Kelly

          In the prohibitionist’s world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are “stoners” and “dopers” that need to be incarcerated in order to to protect society.

          In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their God given duty to worry about “saving us all” from the “evils” of marijuana use.

          Who are they to tell us we can’t choose marijuana, the safer choice instead of alcohol for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes?

          People who consume marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who “follow the law” also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it’s current prohibition of course) .

          Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make them out to be. They are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too.

          Several Presidents of The United States themselves, along with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, and Carl Sagan have all confessed to their marijuana use. As have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives.

          Although that doesn’t mean a dam thing to people who will make comments like “dopers” and “stoners” about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol.

          To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, advertises, and even glorifies alcohol consumption like it’s an All American pastime.

          There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long hard day than having a drink or two of alcohol.

          So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can’t enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes?

          We’ve worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don’t appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all.

          Has a marijuana consumer ever forced you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force anybody not to either.

          Don’t try to impose your morality and “clean living” upon everybody else with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won’t think you’re such prohibitionist hypocrites.

          Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

  • malcolmkyle

    An elected government should not declare war and militarize against its own people. Historically, the use of force to address/prohibit non-violent, victimless activities has produced only negative results.

    * Our policy regarding drugs is in the hands of frauds, liars and two bit crooks, and until they are in handcuffs, poverty will increase, injustice will prevail and perversity will rule the planet.

    * Drug prohibition, coupled with the senseless contra wars in Latin America in the 1980s—which was funded by clandestine CIA cocaine shipments into North American cities—has destabilized the whole region, causing mass violence and a flood of refugees into the United States.

    * In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. This has resulted in the number of people infected with HIV who are drug addicts dropping from 50 per cent to 20 per cent, and new diagnoses of HIV among addicts dropping from approximately 3,000 to below 2,000 annually. The number of drug overdose deaths declined from 400 to 290 a year between 2001 and 2006, and “problematic” drug use and drug use among adolescents has decreased.

    * Prohibitionists have always been murderous parasites: In 1926, during alcohol prohibition, the federal government began a campaign of deliberately poisoning vats of liquor with kerosene, gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, acetone, methanol, and several other deadly toxins. Estimates place the body count above 10,000.

    * Illegal Drug Cartels cannot operate without the support of politicians, bureaucrats, and police officers.

    * Keeping various psychoactive plants and their derivatives illegal and unregulated means robberies, home invasions, murders, broken families, shattered lives—all mostly done by law enforcement agencies. Add to that list: environmental devastation, poisoning of lands, streams and wildlife—all preventable by regulated legalization.

    * Prohibition has been a slow but relentless degradation (death by a zillion cuts) of all our cherished national and international institutions that will leave us crippled for numerous generations.

    * The US federal government is now the most dangerous and corrupt corporation on the planet; it is solely comprised of traitorous, lying hucksters who spy on us.

    * In 1989, The Kerry Committee found that the United States Department of State had made payments to drug-traffickers. Concluding, that even members of the U.S. State Department, themselves, were involved in drug trafficking. Some of the payments were made even after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies – or even while these traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies.

    * The involvement of the CIA in running Heroin from Vietnam, Southeast Asia and Afghanistan, and Cocaine from Central America, has been well documented, by the 1989 Kerry Committee report, academic researchers Alfred McCoy and Peter Dale Scott and the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Gary Webb.

    * The United States jails a larger percentage of it’s own citizens than any other country in the world, including those run by all the other worst totalitarian regimes, yet it has far higher use & addiction rates than most other countries.

    * As with torture, prohibition is a grievous crime against humanity. If you support it, or even simply tolerate it by looking the other way while others commit it, you are an accessory to a very serious moral transgression against humanity.

    * The United States re-legalized certain drug use in 1933. The drug was alcohol, and the 21st amendment re-legalized its production, distribution and sale. Both alcohol consumption and violent crime dropped immediately as a result. And very soon after, the American economy climbed out of that same prohibition engendered abyss into which it had foolishly fallen.