Voters across the country opted for change, not just in their representatives but on ballot issues that included legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage -- which passed everywhere it showed up on a ballot -- and tighter controls on gun sales.
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ALASKA – MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION This is the second time in recent years that Alaskans voted on legalizing marijuana. The last attempt in 2004 failed 44 percent to 55 percent. Having legalized marijuana this year, Alaskans can expect Snoop Dogg to perform for them sometime soon. He promised a concert in Alaska if they passed Measure 2.
OREGON – MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION Oregon becomes the fourth state with full marijuana legalization, after Colorado and Washington last year, and joining Alaska Tuesday night. This also happens to be the third time Oregonians voted on pot legalization in their state, having rejected the ballot initiatives in 2012 and 2010. One of the reasons this attempt was successful may have been that voters aged 30-44 turned out at a slightly higher rate than those 65 or older. Residents will be able to possess eight ounces of marijuana at home and one ounce in public. But it won’t go into effect overnight: The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will have until Jan. 1, 2016 to implement all necessary rules and procedures necessary to regulating marijuana in the state.
WASHINGTON DC – MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION Revelers celebrating the passage of Initiative 71 which legalizes pot possession should hold off on smoking in the streets – this is far from over. Any law passed in Washington DC, including by ballot initiative, is subject to a Congressional review period and already one member of Congress, Republican Andy Harris of Maryland, has pledged to work to overturn it. And now that the Senate has turned red, Congress can more easily overturn the DC vote. Pot sellers should also probably lay low for a while. I-71 does not regulate the sale of marijuana, which means it’s technically still illegal to sell weed, even if obtaining it isn’t – another aspect of the measure that the city council might try to fix legislatively.
MINIMUM WAGE: Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, South Dakota Minimum wage measures are consistently popular with voters. In 2006, all seven measures on ballots around the country passed, as did a 2013 measure in New Jersey. So it’s no surprise that voters supported raising the minimum wage in all four states where that question was on the ballot this year. A fifth state, Illinois, also passed a minimum wage ballot, but that was only a way for voters to express their personal preference and was non-binding.
WASHINGTON: GUN CONTROL A ballot measure that would mandate background checks on gun show buyers and online sales passed handily, while a dueling measure that would have prevented the expansion of background checks failed. Had both gotten a majority "yes" vote, the state supreme court would have likely had to work out the legal implications.
DEFEATS FLORIDA - MEDICAL MARIJUANA Florida needed to clear 60 percent for this constitutional amendment to pass and it came close with 58 percent, but no cigar (or… joint?) Obviously, it was a tougher sell because of that high bar. Also, the anti-medical marijuana camp spent most of the $4.7 million in TV ads that featured in the Sunshine State, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG advertising data in late October. Plus, voters 45 and older far outnumbered younger voters, who were more likely to support broad medical marijuana legalization. There is already a more limited medical marijuana law on the books in Florida. This amendment would have broadened the number of types of legal medical marijuana.
COLORADO – PERSONHOOD This is the third time a personhood amendment in Colorado has failed since 2008. But this is the closest it’s ever come to passing with 37 percent of voters choosing “yes.” If it had passed, the implications for abortion in the state weren’t explicitly spelled out but could have been potentially far-reaching: it would have given legal rights to all unborn fetuses, meaning it wouldn’t have banned any type of abortion outright but would have given anti-abortion activists a way to accuse anyone having an abortion of murder.