November 7, 2013

Advocates of legal pot seek more wins

After victories Tuesday in Michigan and Colorado, as well as Portland, more campaigns are planned.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Buoyed by their success at the polls Tuesday, marijuana backers say they will now try to get the drug fully legalized in 13 more states by 2017.

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Advocates of tax revenues from legal marijuana sales celebrate an election victory in Denver on Tuesday.

The Associated Press

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They would join Colorado and Washington state, which voted last year to allow pot sales for recreational use.

The drive to legalize won considerable new momentum across the country on Election Day as voters in three states approved pro-pot measures.

Portland, Maine, became the first East Coast city to legalize marijuana. Colorado approved a 25 percent tax on pot. Voters in the Michigan cities of Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale decided to remove all penalties for possession.

With a Gallup Poll released last month finding that 58 percent of Americans now back legalization, supporters are confident that more states will jump on the bandwagon.

The national Marijuana Policy Project said it would try to get legalization on the ballot in seven states and work to get state legislatures to pass it in another six.

If a petition drive succeeds, Alaska voters are expected to consider legalization first, in 2014.

In 2016, the group will try to get the issue on the ballot in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana and Nevada.

They’ll try to get state legislators to do the job in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Tuesday’s votes were the first ballot initiatives since last November, when Colorado and Washington state approved tax-and-regulate sales plans that will take effect next year.

In Colorado, voters gave the green light to a 25 percent pot tax that comprises a 15 percent excise tax to pay for school construction and a 10 percent tax to pay for enforcement.

“Colorado is demonstrating to the rest of the nation that it is possible to end marijuana prohibition and successfully regulate marijuana like alcohol,” said Mason Tvert, the communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver.

Tvert said the measure would raise millions of dollars each year for the state’s schools, instead of having the money diverted to drug dealers. He said it was “only a matter of time” before other states would adopt similar plans.

Many cities in Colorado already are considering ballot measures that would impose local taxes on retail pot sales.

So far, nine U.S. cities or towns have voted to legalize marijuana or to remove penalties for possession, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

In Michigan on Tuesday, voters in Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale joined Detroit and Flint, where residents decided last year to remove all penalties for adult possession.

In Colorado, Denver, Breckenridge and Nederland had voted to do away with penalties before the entire state voted last year to allow recreational use, beginning this Jan. 1.

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