Article by Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post
Today the Associated Press finally called Maine’s marijuana ballot measure in favor of legalization. The ‘yes’ votes just squeaked by the ‘no’ votes with just a couple thousand votes to spare.
In sum, reform of marijuana laws won in eight out of the nine states where it was put on the ballot, the strongest signal to date that the public is ready to embrace change and potentially put the harsh prohibitionist policies of the past behind them.
Notably, advocates of reforming marijuana laws made progress in regions of the country they’d previously had little success in. On the medical marijuana sign, Florida became the first state in the South to approve a robust medical marijuana proposal. Arkansas soon followed suit, a surprising development given the chaotic history of the measure — two separate proposals were actually on the ballot there, but due to a late court ruling only one could be voted on.
Another surprise in the medical marijuana space was deep-red North Dakota, where nearly two-thirds of voters cast their ballots in favor of medical pot. That contest flew so far under the radar that there wasn’t a single poll conducted on the question.
Neighboring Montana had initially approved of a medical marijuana way back in 2004. But since then state lawmakers had steadily chipped away at the measure, eventually passing strict new rules that would have shut down many of the state’s dispensaries.
This year, medical marijuana supporters put an item on the ballot to roll back most of those restrictions. Polls seemed to indicate voter skepticism, with 51 percent opposing the ballot measure as recently as October. But in a surprising twist, they ultimately passed the measure by 58-42.