I have long said that if you cannot achieve legalization at the federal level, to aim for a state level victory, and if a state level victory is not likely (right now), push for local victories. Those local victories will build momentum for a state level victory, which in turn builds momentum for the end of prohibition at the federal level. States like Michigan have always done an amazing job of winning local cannabis reform elections, which is going to hopefully help push legalization over the top during the 2018 election.
Yesterday was the 2017 election, and it was pretty historic in many ways. Pro-cannabis legalization candidate Phil Murphy won the Governor race in New Jersey, which means that leading marijuana reform opponent Chris Christie will be replaced with someone that has the exact opposite view on marijuana (winning!). A pro-decriminalization candidate will be Virginia’s next Governor. There were also local victories in various parts of America, with arguably the biggest one occurring in Athens, Ohio. Per NORML:
The Athens Cannabis Ordinance - better known as “TACO” – to completely remove all penalties for possessing, cultivating, and gifting of up to 200 grams of marijuana was approved by voters on election day by a vote of 77 percent to 23 percent.
In November 2016, four Ohio municipalities – Newark, Logan, Roseville, and Bellaire - passed similar depenalization ballot measures. Under Ohio state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are classified as a minor misdemeanor, punishable by a fine, but no jail time or criminal record.
As NORML pointed out, it’s not the first local victory of its type in Ohio, but it’s no less significant. With five municipalities having passed what are essentially marijuana legalization measures, Ohio is getting riper for statewide legalization with every passing election. Hopefully Ohio gets entirely on the right side of history sooner rather than later. It will be interesting to see how long it takes. Congratulations Athens voters for passing the initiative, and by such a wide margin!