Marijuana News Roundup: A Haiku for California Pot Vote

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Voters in the state of California will get a chance to express their opinions on 17 ballot propositions come November 8. The Secretary of State’s official voter guide is 224 pages of words and charts. Who’s got time to read all that?

A California Democratic Party activist, Damian Carroll, has you covered. He has composed 17 haikus to explain simply what you are voting on.

Proposition 64, to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state, is among our favorites:

Legalizes pot!
Also raises some tax funds
(Perhaps a billion?)

California is one of eight states that will be voting to legalize either recreational or medical use of marijuana. Voters in Montana, where medical marijuana is already legal, will vote to lift legislature-imposed limits on access to medical marijuana.

Voters in five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada — get a chance to legalize marijuana for recreational use, while voters in three states — Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota — are considering legalizing medical marijuana.

According to a September 16 poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, support for legalizing recreational marijuana use has reached 60%. A July poll in Massachusetts shows legalization losing by 51% to 41% and an August poll in Arizona shows the legalization side losing by 51% to 40%. The last poll in Maine was taken in March and has legalization ahead 53.8% to 42.4% and a Nevada poll conducted in mid-September has legalization winning by a 53% to 39% margin.

Among medical marijuana measures, a June poll indicates Arkansas favors legalization by a 58% to 34% margin and a July poll in Florida has supporters winning by a margin of 77% to 20%. There are no polls available at Ballotpedia for either North Dakota or Montana.

Missouri Voters Won’t See Medical Marijuana on November Ballot
A proposal to allow medical marijuana in Missouri won’t go to voters this year because of an insufficient number of valid signatures, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green’s decision backed those by St. Louis-area election authorities, who threw out thousands of petition signatures; in some cases, people signed sheets labeled for counties in which they weren’t registered to vote.

Proposed constitutional amendments must receive signatures from at least 8 percent of registered voters in six of the state’s eight congressional districts in order to go to voters. Secretary of State Jason Kander previously said the measure fell 2,242 signatures short in the 2nd District covering part of the St. Louis area.

Attorneys for New Approach Missouri and others supporting the proposal argued in court that 2,219 invalidated signatures should be counted, which would still leave them 23 signatures short. Proponents were relying on another 144 contested signatures to also be counted, although those were found after a court deadline last week.

A spokesman for New Approach Missouri has said it likely won’t appeal the ruling because of time constraints. Absentee voting begins next Tuesday.

Read more at The Cannabist.

Supporting But Not Inhaling Marijuana Legalization

Polls suggest California voters will legalize recreational use of marijuana this November. I am a supporter of legalization, but only tepidly, and only because of certain unpleasant realities.

California made 465,873 marijuana-related arrests between 2006 and 2015. Nationwide, despite spending billions on the war on drugs, drug abuse remains at unacceptable levels. Illegal production has degraded the environment, often in pristine wilderness areas, and black market producers do not pay taxes.

As a law professor, I also am troubled that respect for the law diminishes when we criminalize conduct that so many people engage in, especially when people of color are arrested on marijuana charges far more frequently than white offenders, despite similar use across racial groups.

Still, the more extravagant claims that some proponents of legalization make leave me skeptical. Some proponents project $1 billion or more in tax revenue; much lower prison, jail and law enforcement costs; an end to environmental degradation; and victories over drug cartels and gangs. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which supports legalization, projects 50,000 new jobs paying $1.4 billion in new wages.

Read more at The Sacramento Bee.