Oregon, Alaska, DC Voters To Weigh Legal Marijuana In November

November 1, 2014 Nemes Legal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Voters in the US capital and 2 West Coast states will decide in the Nov. 4 elections whether to legalize cannabis, pressing closer to the mainstream an idea that was once consigned to the political fringe.

Tally initiatives in Oregon and Alaska would establish a network of controlled pot shops, similar to those already operating in Colorado and Washington state. A measure in the District of Columbia would allow possession but not retail sales.If effective

, the tally efforts could build momentum for legalization in other states and force candidates in the 2016 presidential election to decide on the problem.

Public viewpointPopular opinion on marijuana has actually moved sharply in the past numerous years, and surveys indicate more Americans now support legalization than oppose it. Supporters state that, like gay marriage, legal pot is a concept that gains support once individuals see it in action.The more public dialogue that goes on about this problem, the more support there is, said Mason Tvert of the Cannabis Policy Project, which is supporting the legalization drive in Alaska. Opponents state legalization will

develop an aggressive new industry that, like the tobacco company, will certainly profit by marketing an addictive product to teenagers. Unlike gay marital relationship, legal pot will have harmful results, many say.I don’t understand any person who browses and says, My life is much better when everyone around me is stoned, stated Kevin Sabet, a former White Residence drug-policy advisor who now heads up Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-legalization group.Few elected officials in the nation support legalization and viewers do not anticipate that to change at any time soon.It appears that this is an area where the public is out in front of their elected authorities

, stated Jake Weigler, an Oregon Democratic strategist not connected with the legalization effort.So for the minute advocates are concentrated on ballot initiatives. Such referendums allow voters to shape policy directly at the state level: this year alone, tallies in different states consist of measures to raise the base pay, limit abortion and ban particular types of bear hunting.On the marijuana issue, voters in the District of Columbia back legalization by a two-to-one margin, according to recent polling, while a slim majority supports legal pot in Oregon. Opinion polls in Alaska have been inconsistent.Nationwide, roughly one in 4 Americans state they have utilized pot, according to Reuters/Ipsos ballot. Some 47 percent support legalization and 35 percent oppose it.Marijuana stays unlawful under

federal law, but President Barack Obama has allowed Colorado and Washington to progress with legalization. Federal prosecutors have actually been told to concentrate enforcement on locations

such as interstate trafficking and offering to minors, as opposed to possession. The next president will have to decide whether to continue that technique or to insist that federal law exceeds local concerns.CHANGES OVER 2 YEARS Marijuana has actually been edging towards legal status across the country given that California ended up being the first state to allow its use for medical functions in 1996. The medical use of marijuana, to alleviate disorders ranging from glaucoma to

chronic discomfort, is now legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Florida may end up being the very first state in the South to accept medical pot in November.Some 18 states have likewise gotten rid of criminal charges for possession of small amounts, as policymakers left wing and the right have questioned the social and financial costs of sending to prison nonviolent drug users. Nationwide, about 650,000 people were apprehended for cannabis possession in 2012, FBI data show.

Colorado and Washington opened the very first state-licensed pot establishments earlier this year, following legalization referendums in 2012. Beau Kilmer, a drug policy specialist at the RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan think tank, stated it is too soon to figure out how those efforts are faring due to the fact that there is not adequatenot nearly enough information to determine whether legalization has resulted in even more criminal activity, higher rates of minor use, or even more individuals driving while high.Colorado residents are divided on legalizations benefits. Some 51 percent of likely voters in the

state support it and 41 percent oppose it, according to Reuters/Ipsos ballot. Opponents of legal marijuana are not like the anti-drug warriors of past years. Lots of support decriminalization and clinical use, if done carefully, but argue that other states must not be in such a hurry to follow Colorado and Washington all the method to legal pot shops

. I don’t wantwish to promote the next number of years, however right now its not the right choice, said Charles Fedullo, a representative for Huge Marijuana Big Mistake, which opposes the legalization drive in Alaska.Advocates have lots of money to spend. In liberal-leaning Oregon, backers are spending$ 2 million on a prime-time TV advertisement campaignadvertising campaign. Opponents, on the other hand, have actually raised a simple$168,000, mainly from law-enforcement groups. In Alaska, a Republican-leaning state with a strong libertarian streak, backers have raised $867,000 while challengers have raised$97,000. This is a genuine David versus Goliath operation. Were the David, said Josh Marquis, an Oregon district attorney includedassociated with the anti-legalization project.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Modifying by John Whitesides, Frances Kerry and Steve Orlofsky)

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