Marijuana advocates, fresh off victories for legal recreational pot in Oregon, Alaska and the nation's capital, are already preparing for their next target, and it's a big one: California.
They are aiming to
ask voters in the nation's largest state to legalize marijuana for
recreational use in 2016, hoping to draw on a more liberal and larger
electorate during a presidential election to help them avoid a repeat of
their 2010 failed pot measure.
The victories in Oregon, Alaska
and the District of Columbia came in a midterm election that saw a low
turnout and a conservative electorate hand Republicans back control of
the U.S. Senate for the first time since 2006.
The results emboldened them - even
from a loss in Florida, where a medical marijuana proposal earned 58
percent of the vote, just shy of the 60 percent required to pass.
The pot votes were considered by many to be the
first real test of marijuana reform's popularity since Washington state
and Colorado passed the nation's first legal pot laws in 2012, boosted
then by the higher turnout among young people typical of presidential
the wins in Colorado and Washington, a coalition of activists
considered rushing a tax-and-regulate measure to this year's ballot in
California. Their polling showed solid support, but they remained
chastened by 2010, when a legalization proposal there polled well but
Early this year, given the huge expense of a serious
statewide campaign in California, they opted for what they considered a
safer bet: waiting until the presidential election year in 2016, with
its anticipated bumper crop of younger voters.
Policy Project, which was heavily involved in Colorado's campaign, has
formed a committee to begin fundraising in California, where it again
plans to urge voters to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
Activists also hope to bring legal pot to Massachusetts, Maine and other states.
saw voters in the District of Columbia approving the possession of up
to two ounces of pot and up to three mature marijuana plants for
personal use, but the proposal did not provide for the legal sale of
marijuana. That's left up to the D.C. Council.
The measures in Oregon and Alaska follow Colorado and Washington state in setting up regulation and taxation systems.
opponents and the U.S. government have closely watched Washington and
Colorado to gauge the impact on the black market, drug use among teens
and impaired driving, among other areas.
In both states, adults over 21 can purchase marijuana, including potent extracts and edibles, at state-licensed dispensaries.
is on track to bring in about $84 million this year from medical and
recreational pot taxes and fees. In Washington, where recreational pot
sales began in July, the tax collections have totaled more than $7
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