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2012: Historic Year for Marijuana Reform on the Ballot

With just 53 days until the November election most state ballots across the country are now set and it is clear that this year should be a historic one for marijuana reform. In addition to there being two state initiative for medical marijuana this November, incredibly three states will be voting on whether or not to fully legalize marijuana for adults. That is the largest number of legalization initiative to ever appear on the ballot in any given election, and more importantly, there is a very good chance one or more of them will win approval.

Marijuana Legalization – Washington, Colorado, Oregon

WashingtonInitiative 502 is the legalization measure on the ballot in Washington State promoted by the New Approach Washington campaign. It would legalize up to an ounce of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. In addition, it would create a regulator system for the production, retail sale and taxation of marijuana. The law would create a new DUI standard. Of the three legalization initiatives on the ballot, it currently stand the best chance of passing. The most recent polling shows the initiative holds a large lead of 57% yes to 34% no. In addition, the campaign has raised over $3 million dollars and currently faces very little organized opposition in the state.

Colorado – In the centennial state voters will be deciding on Amendment 64. This initiative would also legalize up to an ounce of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. It would also create a regulator system for its tax, production and sale. Unlike I-502, it would allow for limited home growing and it does not change the law regarding DUI. While marijuana legalization is not polling as well in Colorado as it is in Washington state, Amendment 64 does have a solid lead. The most recent PPP shows it winning 47% yes to 38% no. The campaign has strong fundraising having brought in roughly $1 million to spend on their efforts to legalize it.

OregonMeasure 80, the Oregon Tax Cannabis Act, is on the ballot here. This would legalize marijuana for adults over 21, allow for personal home growing, and create a regulated system for its sale. There has been very little recent polling on it, however. The last PPP poll from July found 43% of voters in the state think marijuana should be legal and 46% think it should be illegal.

Medical Marijuana – Massachusetts and Arkansas

Massachusetts – Question 3 on the ballot in Massachusetts would permit the medical use of marijuana for people with a doctor’s recommendation and create a limited number of dispensaries in the state to supply patients. All indications are that it will win approval this November making Massachusetts the 18th medical marijuana state. Massachusetts is a very liberal state and its voters have a history of strongly supporting marijuana reform. In 2008, a ballot measure to decriminalize marijuana passed with over 62 percent voting in favor of it. A PPP poll from last month found Question 3 is winning 58% yes to 27% no. The measure’s official opposition is comically disorganized.

Arkansas – If voters approve the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act it would be the first state in the South to have a medical marijuana system. The law would allow patients with a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana medically and create a system of non-profit dispensaries. The initiative has qualified for the ballot but a conservative coalition is suing to have it removed. Medical marijuana winning approval by voters in Arkansas would be a powerful signal that it has broad support all across the country.

Image: pashabo /

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at