WASHINGTON, D.C. – Defying the scare tactics of state and local officials, voters in Massachusetts and Michigan gave current marijuana policies a resounding vote of no confidence Tuesday. Massachusetts voters approved the first marijuana decriminalization initiative ever passed by voters, Michigan voters enacted the nation’s 13th medical marijuana law, and local reform measures appeared to be passing in several communities.
“Tonight’s results represent a sea change,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which sponsored the Massachusetts and Michigan campaigns. “Voters have spectacularly rejected eight years of the most intense government war on marijuana since the days of ‘Reefer Madness.'”
In Michigan, White House drug czar John Walters personally campaigned against Proposal 1, calling it an “abomination.” In Massachusetts, all 11 district attorneys warned of huge increases in teen marijuana use and other dire consequences should Question 2 pass, even though studies in the 11 states with similar laws, as well as Australia and Europe, have found no such increases due to decriminalization. Under Question 2, criminal penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana will be replaced by a civil fine of $100, much like a traffic ticket.
Several local reform initiatives appear on ballots around the country. For a complete list as well as their results as they become available, visit http://www.mpp.org/library/2008-ballot-initiatives.html.
“Last year an American was arrested on marijuana charges once every 36 seconds, which is more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined.” Kampia said. “Our ideologically stunted marijuana policies have been a catastrophic failure, and the voters have loudly said, ‘Enough!’ Marijuana prohibition is about to take its place next to alcohol prohibition on the ash heap of history.”
Michigan’s vote makes that state the 13th to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest. One in four Americans now live in a state with such protections. Barack Obama has pledged an end to federal raids on patients and caregivers obeying state medical marijuana laws should he become president.