Update on Marijuana Legalization Initiatives

In case y’all didn’t know, 2012 is an exciting year for cannabis legalization. Three states (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon) have initiatives on their ballot to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis. I support all three of them wholeheartedly, though I favor the Colorado measure the most. What’s great is that two of them are polling very well. Before I get to their prospects, here’s a quick overview of all 3.

In Colorado, we have Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act of 2012, which would do the following:

  • Legalize the possession, personal use, and limited home-growing of cannabis for adults 21 years of age and older.
  • Make the state license and regulate cannabis cultivators, distributors, and retail outlets.
  • Establish a taxation system for cannabis sales similar to existing alcohol sales.
  • Allow for the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp.

In Washington, there is Initiative 502, led by New Approach Washington, which is a little different:

  • Legalizes possession and personal use of cannabis for adults 21 years of age or older (no homegrowing is legal); and
  • Make the state license and regulate cannabis cultivators, distributors, and retail outlets.
  • Create a flat 25% tax on all cannabis sales.

In Oregon, it is Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012, which is a lot different:

  • Legalize possession and personal use of cannabis for adults 21 years of age or older (no homegrowing is legal).
  • Create a Commission that would grant licenses to cannabis cultivators, who then sell their grown product to the Commission.
  • The Commission would handle all distribution and retail sales of cannabis to consumers
  • The cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp would have no regulations or licensing requirements.

As you can see, all three initiatives legalize the personal use and possession of cannabis for adults 21 years or older. This is the main argument in favor of them: only adults would be able to buy cannabis. As it stands, the criminal black market doesn’t care how old you are, and studies show that it’s easier for children to get cannabis than it is alcohol. A system of regulation would help change this.

Here’s the fun part, the polling numbers for the initiatives right now:

  • Amendment 64 in Colorado is currently leading 51% in favor with 40% opposed and 8% of voters undecided according to a statewide SurveyUSA poll for the Denver Post. These numbers are really good, and when you dig into the demographics of the measure and who is expected to vote this year, things look great. Really interesting since Colorado is a swing state, and President Obama has been cracking down on medical marijuana hard lately. From the Denver Post.
  • Even better news in Washington where I-502 has a strong 57% in favor with 34% opposed, with 9% undecided according to a statewide SurveyUSA Poll. These numbers are very good for a ballot initiative, and supporters have plenty of money still in the bank. I may visit my brother in Seattle more often if this passes. Again, things are looking good in Washington. From StopTheDrugWar.org.
  • The news isn’t as good for Measure 80 in Oregon, where it is trailing 41% opposed to 37% in favor, with 22% undecided according to a statewide SurveyUSA Poll. All those undecideds have a change to swing this in favor of Measure 80, buts it’s hard to believe they’ll all vote one way. Let’s hope Measure 80 can boost their poll numbers before election day. Of course it doesn’t help Measure 80 hasn’t been getting support from the big donors the other 2 measures have gotten. From StopTheDrugWar.org.

That’s all I have for you today. Feel free to discuss anything related to cannabis and these initiatives in the comments section. I’ll chime in if I need to.

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