Voters in 41 states took to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes deciding the future of medical marijuana, minimum wages, bear hunting, immigration and controversial gaming.
Some of America’s most debated issues — abortion, pot, gun owners’ rights — were at the forefront in several states.
Voters in Florida rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for the relief of chronic pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with eight major diseases.
In Colorado, voters rejected a proposal to add “unborn human beings” to the state’s criminal code, a measure that some feared could ban abortion.
And in North Dakota, voters rejected a “right-to-life” state constitutional amendment that abortion rights advocates feared would have ended legal abortions there.
The North Dakota measure would have declared “the inalienable right to life of every human being at every stage of development must be recognized and protected.”
TENNESSEE PASSES ABORTION AMENDMENT
But Tennessee approved an amendment that will give more power to state lawmakers to regulate and restrict abortion, adding language to the Tennessee constitution that reads, in part: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” even in the case of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.
In Oregon, voters rejected a measure permitting four-year driver’s cards to those who cannot prove their legal status in the United States. Supporters said the bill would keep the streets safer by forcing people to learn the rules of the road and get insurance. The measure was aimed mainly at Oregon’s tens of thousands of immigrants who are in the country illegally. The Pew Hispanic Center says about 160,000 immigrants living in Oregon entered the country illegally.
Oregon voters did approve a measure, modeled on Washington state’s, that allow adults to buy marijuana for recreational use. With more than 65% of the votes counted, Oregon’s Measure 91 had strong support from voters.
Oregonians legalize marijuana
Also, in Washington, D.C., city residents overwhelmingly approved a measure that will allow people to possess up to 2 oz. of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants at home without legal penalties. But the D.C. law faces a strange restriction, as pot still remains illegal in the one-fourth of the city that sits on federal land — federal law still bans marijuana possession. And Congress could step in and overrule any new measure.
And in Alaska, a plan to legalize and tax recreational marijuana sales held a slim lead with about 36% of votes counted.
FLORIDA REJECTS MEDICAL POT
The Florida medical marijuana measure had wide popular support, but became targeted by a well-funded pushback by a major Republican donor.
Florida would have been the 24th state to allow pot for medical use.
The amendment would have given doctors the ability to prescribe marijuana for eight “debilitating” diseases: cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
The measure had mixed support from major Florida newspapers, with the Miami Herald endorsing it but theOrlando Sentinel and Tampa Bay Times suggesting voters reject it. The Times last month (10/3) told readers, “No one wants to see family members, friends or neighbors suffer. But this well-intentioned attempt to provide relief is not the way to address this difficult issue. Amendment 2 is too broad, and voters should reject it.”
View where marijuana is legal
Florida Today last week endorsed the measure, saying, “If we can expand personal freedom without creating a new public harm, we should do it. If we can empower the sick with an affordable, relatively safe option for treating pain, lost appetite or other chronic symptoms, we should do that too.”
Under the amendment, patients would have had to get a doctor’s certification of their condition, which in turn would qualify them for a patient ID card they could use at licensed dispensaries.
Stephen Carr, a 31-year-old law student who biked to his Gainesville polling place, voted against the amendment. “I’m just concerned it’s going to lead to a lot of people manipulating the system illegally to get marijuana on the up-and-up,” said Carr, a Democrat. “I’m not totally opposed to legalizing marijuana, but I just think it would be better to wait.”
Gainesville cab driver Leonard Rushing said he favored legalizing medical marijuana. “I ain’t never seen marijuana hurt nobody,” he said. “If you can legalize cigarettes, you can legalize marijuana. It says right on the package: cigarettes give you cancer.”
The organization behind the measure, People United for Medical Marijuana, is led by Florida attorney John Morgan, and most of the roughly $5 million that Morgan and his law firm spent on the campaign went toward collecting more than 700,000 signatures to put the question on the 2014 general election ballot. The measure’s main opposition came from the Drug Free Florida Committee, whose major donor, Nevada casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, gave the anti-marijuana effort $5.5 million in donations, according to theTimes.
Recent polling has shown that over 70% of Floridians support the legalization of medical marijuana, but other polls were mixed: A University of North Florida poll a few weeks ago found 67% approval, while another, commissioned last week by the Times and other media outlets, found only 46% approval. The measure needed 60% of voters to approve it.
Morgan told the newspaper earlier this week that even if the vote came close to the required 60%, he’d try again in 2016, when voters select a president. “I plan to win this,” he said. “But if I lose a battle, I can damn sure still win the war.”
In spite of the defeat, Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that promotes “drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights,” said the results were “a confirmation of medical marijuana’s broad support across the political spectrum.” He noted that Florida is the only state that requires 60% to pass a ballot initiative.
MINIMUM WAGE, GMOS, BEARS
Other issues on the ballot Tuesday night:
• In Arkansas and Nebraska, voters approved hiking the minimum wage. Voters in three other states — Alaska, Illinois and South Dakota — were also voting on raising the minimum wage.
• Voters in Colorado rejected mandated labels for genetically modified foods; a similar measure in Oregon was being decided as well.
• In Maine, voters were deciding on a ballot initiative that would ban sportsmen from hunting bears with the use of bait, dogs and traps. A fierce debate on hunting methods has raged there for months, frequently pitting hunters against animal rights advocates. The bait used is typically sugary human food such as doughnuts. Maine’s bear population of 30,000 is up about 30% from 10 years ago, and state wildlife officials have said the hunting methods are needed to control the population.
• Gun background checks in Washington
• New laws around casino gaming in California, South Dakota, Kansas, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Powered by WPeMatico