Yesterday was a very big day for the marijuana reform movement. Out of 9 states that were voting on either recreational or medical marijuana, all but one passed. Arizona, which voted on recreational marijuana legalization, was the only state that failed to pass. Arizona seemed to be where opponents focused most of their energy out of the recreational states, and in Massachusetts to a lesser extent.
One election race that got lost in the history making shuffle was a local initiative in Denver. Initiative 300 would legalize neighborhood approved social marijuana use sites, such as at bars and other venues. In every state that has passed recreational marijuana, public consumption, even in a privately owned business, is prohibited. If Denver Initiative 300 were to pass, it would be very significant, as it’s one of the areas in the ‘new marijuana policy era’ that activists need to be focused on.
Just because a state votes to legalize marijuana doesn’t mean that the battle is over. Far from it! Let this be a tip to states that just voted to legalize. I live in Oregon where we voted to legalize in 2014. Almost immediately the legalization was limited by local governments in the form of bans, moratoriums, and other crafty public policy tricks. That took a lot of people by surprise. Activists were able to mobilize to a lot of places, but it would have been better had we pushed faster in the process. To be fair, there’s not exactly a guidebook on how to implement legalization.
There has been some confusion as to if the initiative has passed or not. I have seen a couple of posts go out declaring it as victorious, and I have received a couple of press releases about it. However, members of the campaign have stated on social media that there are still about 50,000 ballots to be counted, and that it could possibly take as long as Monday for a final tally. It could very well (and hopefully will!) pass, but there’s been no official declaration yet. There doesn’t seem to be an explanation as to why there is a delay, but if the campaign has yet to call victory, and there’s still that many ballots to be counted, this race is too close to call, as the current math is 100,284 votes in favor of social use to 96,893. That’s a little over a 1% difference, which could easily be affected by the 50,000 votes lingering out there.
That’s not to say that the initiative will lose. Hopefully the lead holds and victory is officially declared! But it’s still up in the air as of this posting. We will keep on this and try to get a post up as soon as we hear something. Also in Colorado, Pueblo County voters voted down a proposed ban (Ballot Question 200) that would have shut down the marijuana industry there. All of those businesses that were on a hiring freeze can now start planning for the future!