Politics

November 7, 2012

Gay marriage, marijuana approved in historic votes

Colorado and Washington legalize pot use, as Maryland and Minnesota join Maine in supporting same-sex marriage.

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Supporters in Denver celebrate the victory of an amendment that legalizes marijuana use in Colorado on Tuesday night.

The Associated Press

Washington’s measure establishes a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and stores, where adults can buy up to an ounce. It also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence.

The Washington measure was notable for its sponsors and supporters, who ranged from public health experts and wealthy high-tech executives to two former top Justice Department’s officials in Seattle, U.S. Attorneys John McKay and Kate Pflaumer.

“Marijuana policy reform remains an issue where the people lead and the politicians follow,” said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which opposes the co-called “war on drugs.” “But Washington state shows that many politicians are beginning to catch up.”

Estimates show pot taxes could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but the sales won’t start until state officials make rules to govern the legal weed industry.

The Washington measure was opposed by Derek Franklin, president of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention.

“Legalizing is going to increase marijuana use among kids and really create a mess with the federal government,” Franklin said. “It’s a bit of a tragedy for the state.”

In Oregon, a marijuana-legalization measure was defeated. In Massachusetts, voters approved a measure to allow marijuana use for medical reasons, joining 17 other states. Arkansas voters rejected a similar measure.

In all, 176 measures were on the ballots Tuesday in 38 states, according to the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California.

Other notable results:

In California, voters approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to raise income taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year and sales taxes on everyone to help balance the state budget and avoid about $6 billion in cuts, mostly to schools. Voters rejected an attempt to curb union clout at the statehouse by limiting paycheck deductions for political activities, and defeated a proposal to require the labeling of genetically modified foods.

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