News / USA

Ballot Initiatives See Advocates of Marijuana, Gay Rights Gain Ground

FILE - A young man lights a marijuana cigarette during a demonstration demanding a new law on cannabis in Montevideo, May 8, 2013.
FILE - A young man lights a marijuana cigarette during a demonstration demanding a new law on cannabis in Montevideo, May 8, 2013.
Analysts say the results of this week's U.S. state ballot measures indicate Americans are feeling more at ease about accepting a limited use of marijuana.
 
Voters in the northeastern city of Portland, Maine voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
 
Meanwhile, in three cities in Michigan, voters approved measures offering some legal protection to users of small amounts of the drug.
 
In Colorado, voters legalized recreational marijuana last year. This time around, they voted to add a 25 percent sales tax, with some of the funds going to help schools.
 
Brad Ketcher is an attorney with the Ballot Measure Group, a national law firm that concentrates on state and local ballot initiatives. He says the votes in those three states are an indication of changes in national sentiment about marijuana use.
 
"I think there is a creeping liberalization of marijuana laws occurring across the country. I think sometimes politicians and legislative bodies are a little reluctant to embrace that quickly because of a fear of backlash from conservatives or backlash from law enforcement, but the voters do not seem to share that same concern," said Ketcher.
 
Brookings Institution analyst Stephen Hess says the votes could indicate a trend.
 
"It seemed to be a pro-marijuana vote. Of course, it is a big country and there were only three issues, but they all went the way that the marijuana industry wanted them to go," said Hess.

According to the Office of National Drug Control policy, 20 states and the District of Colombia have passed laws allowing for the medical use of marijuana.
 
Other issues were on ballots Tuesday as well. Voters in Royal Oak, Michigan joined other communities that have made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal.
 
The polling took place a day after the U.S. Senate voted to begin debate on a major gay rights bill.
 
Meanwhile, Colorado voters voted against a hefty tax increase to fund schools and Washington state voters turned down a measure requiring mandatory labeling for genetically engineered food.
 
Michael Barone of the American Enterprise Institute says he sees a trend.
 
"The common thread that goes through most of these different ballot proposals in different states is a libertarian thread. It is the idea of people being free to do things that they want to do, whether it is with marijuana, whether it is with gay rights or same sex marriage, whether it is with avoiding taxes or environmental restrictions," said Barone.
 
Lastly, a go-it-alone measure had mixed results in rural Colorado; five counties voted for splitting and creating a 51st state while six counties voted against it. The vote was mostly symbolic.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs