What The Elections Tell Us About The Future Of Marijuana Legalization

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  While voters in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia passed measures in favor of legalizing pot, Florida rejected the use of medical marijuana. The various campaigns and their outcomes offer valuable insights into the politics of pot, now that 17.5 million Americans live in states that permit retail marijuana.

Philip Wallach and John Hudak, who are experts in governance studies, summarize the key takeaways from Tuesday’s election results:

Legalization is not just for liberals: Previous ballot measures legalizing marijuana occurred in blue states, and that trend continued last night with the votes in Oregon and DC. But Alaska shows that marijuana initiatives can also succeed in conservative states — especially those with a libertarian inclination. “It is an issue that even red state voters — in a very Republican year — were willing to embrace. Who knows: maybe even the Republican-controlled Congress will decide the (increasingly illusory) status quo in federal law is due for reform.”

You have to pay to play: Ballot initiatives are expensive. For starters, getting them on the ballot requires an intense campaign of lobbying and collecting signatures. And then, during the elections, the advocacy money spent by the opposing sides of the issue can rival the amount spent in a race between two candidates.


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