Marijuana legalization could see expansion after the election next Tuesday. Alaska and Oregon are looking at fully legalizing the plant in a manner similar to what we’ve seen in Colorado and Washington. Additionally, Florida is looking at joining 23 states and the District of Columbia in allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Alaska’s new law would allow for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and the ownership of six plants. This is similar to the rules in Colorado, which also allow for the ownership of six plants and up to one ounce. Alaska already allows for medicinal marijuana, and has had de facto legalization for possession for nearly forty years thanks to rules governing personal privacy and the case of Ravin v. State of Alaska. Polling numbers have been fairly inconsistent, and mostly dependant on who was commissioning the data collection. They show anywhere from 53 percent opposition to 53 percent support.
The second state looking at full legalization is Oregon. The state has long been at the forefront of joining the modern world, being part of the first wave of medicinal use back in 1998. If passed, citizens could own up to eight ounces of marijuana and four plants. Much like the Alaska vote, the polls on this one are pretty much in a dead heat. Typically, they show a tie at around 45 percent, though they have been a bit more consistent than the ones in Alaska. They may see a boost, however, from an unlikely ally: Law enforcement. Earlier this week a group of police officers, sheriffs, judges, and lawyers signed a letter detailing how the criminalization of marijuana has failed.
Florida will join in the debate as well, bringing an amendment forward to allow for medical marijuana. The measure would prevent the government from prosecuting ailing patients for using the drug for relief from their diseases. Under Florida law, amendments must be passed with 60 percent of the vote, meaning that this one in likely doomed to failure. However, the measure is garnering support from more than half of voters in most polls, so it likely won’t go away as an issue even if it loses.
The wave of legalization of marijuana will continue in the coming years as well. Eight states already have initiatives for 2016, and most Americans are beginning to realize that the Drug War is probably the worst idea this country has ever had. With the overwhelming success and popularity of legalization in states like Colorado and Washington that includes a boom economic industry, new jobs, tax revenues, and a drastic reduction in crime, it seems all but certain that it will happen, even at the expense of a few idiots who may abuse the drug.