If pot were running for president, she would have won already. It has been 20 years since Mary Jane won her first state and The Feds still refuse to listen to the will of the people. Cannabis has been on the ballot in each election since California passed Proposition 215 in 1996. This year, nine states will decide what level of access to cannabis they will give to their citizens, if any. Five states (Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada) will vote on recreational laws. The four other states (Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota) will be voting on medical marijuana on Tuesday.
We are 218 million eligible voters. Yet the two candidates we have to choose from are among the least liked candidates in recent elections. Not a single candidate has agreed with me on cannabis legalization since I became eligible to vote 22 years ago. They only need 270 electoral votes to win the big chair in the Oval Office. My only candidate, cannabis, has steadily crept across the country and gobbled up support in these 22 years. When cannabis wins, they win with bipartisan support. This year, our Presidential candidates are ignoring another 87 electoral votes that are up for grabs for recreational cannabis and 41 electoral votes are up for medical cannabis.
The Recreational Initiatives
California is by far the biggest state to ask the recreational question with 55 electoral votes. California has attempted to legalize cannabis more times than any other state. The third time is a charm, they say. But then again, they were pretty wild to attempt to legalize cannabis just two years after the Controlled Substances Act clamped down on the United States. Then they never really got the vote behind them and struggled throughout the campaign in 2010 with Prop 19. In the great 2012 quest to be the first legal state, California couldn’t even get enough consensus to get a single initiative on the ballot. Everybody had their own ideas for the perfect initiative and nothing got done (except for San Diego County, which got five initiatives on the ballot).
The polls for the most recent initiative are much more positive. In fact, Californians have supported AUMA in every major poll taken this year. The most recent poll I could find was on Oct 26th, by the Public Policy Institute of California. The poll showed 55% support for AUMA and 38% against.
Massachusetts and Arizona each have 11 electoral votes. Massachusetts is the more promising of the two. A mid-October WBUR poll shows that support for their legalization initiative, Question 4, increased support from 50% yes and 45% No in September to 55% Yes and 40% no in October. Arizona, on the other hand, may not get the necessary 50% of the vote. In fact, Proposition 205 opponents are winning with 51% of the vote. There is only 45% support for the initiative in Arizona.
Nevada and Maine are the final two recreational initiatives that will be decided on Tuesday. In Nevada, more voters support Question 4 than oppose it, but only 47% of those surveyed said they would vote yes (43% said they would vote no). Unfortunately, they need to reach 50% in order for the initiative to pass. They are running out of time too, since this poll was conducted on October 29th and 30th. These 6 electoral votes are looking a bit too elusive.
Meanwhile, the four electoral votes for Maine are looking to the positive for the supporters of their initiative, Question 1. The most recent poll that the Portland Press Herald conducted was between October 20-25. 50% of the respondents said they would vote yes, while 41% said they would vote no, and 9% were undecided.
The electoral results on Tuesday night could be mixed at best. The best case scenario has California, Massachusetts, and Maine winning. Worst case, everyone loses. Let’s hope we see 71 more electoral votes when we wake up on 11/9.
The Medical Initiatives
As for medical marijuana, four states have initiatives on the ballot. Florida runs away from the pack with the most electoral votes (29) up for grabs. The voting season started out a bit roughly in Florida, oddly enough. NORML sued the Broward County Election Supervisor when they discovered that some absentee ballots did not include Florida’s legalization initiative, Amendment 2. Then the judge ruled that the Election Supervisor took the necessary steps to rectify the problem and closed the case.
A similar initiative called Amendment 2 came before the people in 2014, but their support for that initiative did not reach the required supermajority 60% of the vote that Florida requires for a constitutional amendment. They only got 57%.
Things look different this time around, however. A St. Leo University poll was taken from October 22-26. The poll showed 71% support for the upgraded initiative. 22% of the respondents were against this medical marijuana initiative and 7% were undecided.
Arkansas is another interesting state. Poor, Poor Arkansas. They tried in 2012 and narrowly lost 51%-44%. Then, on October 27th, the State Supreme Court struck down a similar medical marijuana initiative, issue 7. 12,000 signatures were ineligible. This made Issue 7 short of qualifying for the ballot by 2,500 signatures.
Fortunately, there was also Measure 6. The University of Arkansas released their most recent poll on November, 2nd. It shows Measure 6 winning, with 50% of the people polled saying that they would vote yes and 49% voting no. Like a wetsuit in February, these 6 electoral votes are skin tight!
The final two medical marijuana initiatives are Montana and North Dakota. They are coming in with three electoral votes each. Montana seems uninterested in such a law, and is polling at 51% – no, 44%- Yes, and 5% undecided. North Dakota chooses to leave everything up to chance, apparently, because there are no polls out there to provide anything to chew on.
All in all, the medical marijuana initiatives are looking bleak. Florida could send 29 more electoral votes for medical marijuana, but that is all the meat on the medical marijuana bones this election. It makes sense that medical marijuana would be difficult to sell on the ballot. Medical marijuana has reached critical mass. All of the easy states already have laws in the books. Some of the harder ones too.
In fact, 41 of the 50 states have established medical marijuana laws. Sixteen of these states have CBD- only laws, which don’t count. One of those CBD states, Texas, doesn’t even have a way to enact the law. It is a vegan steak. But when all 41 of these states’ electoral votes are added together, a whopping 474 of 538 electoral votes already have medical marijuana laws on record. Remove the vegans from the equation and the electoral vote is still a majority at 278.
So what if we add another 29 electoral votes to the national tally? So what if 42 states have access to this loophole that is medical marijuana? Congress should already be full of Representatives pushing the agendas of their delegations. But where are they?
We are still stuck with a fearless leader who is still afraid to have some courage. The only option we have is “us or them”. We have already decided. 82% of us already have. They need to catch up. My throat is hoarse and my hands have grown leathery from this climb to relevance. Catch up, D.C. Catch the fuck up.
Click to access October-2016-Florida-Ballot-Measures1.pdf
Click to access Arkansas-Poll-Release-2016.pdf
Arkansas Supreme Court Suspends Issue 7 From November Ballot