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New highs: Marijuana now legal in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC

New highs: Marijuana now legal in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC


Legalization advocates hail ballot results as a sign of progress, but medical pot stalls in Florida

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Voters in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use Tuesday, following in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington, which legalized the drug in 2012. A ballot measure to legalize marijuana for medical purposes failed in Florida, the Associated Press reports, where voters failed to meet the 60 percent threshold needed to pass a constitutional amendment.

Alaska's measure passed by a slight majority Tuesday, with about 52 percent of the vote and 97 percent of precincts reporting. Under the initiative, adults 21 and older can have up to one ounce of marijuana and six plants, with production and sales regulated by a state commission. It won't go into effect until 90 days after the election has been certified, and the state will then have 18 months to implement regulations.

vox marijuana map

Oregon's ballot, Measure 91, allows anyone over the age of 21 to possess up to eight ounces of weed and four marijuana plants. Production and sales will be regulated by the state's liquor board, with tax revenues going toward enforcement and education initiatives. The initiative calls for marijuana to be legalized by July 1st, 2015, and for the state liquor board to implement regulations by January 1st, 2016.

The District of Columbia's measure isn't as expansive — adults 21 and over can legally possess two ounces and six plants — and it does not allow for sales or taxation, since voter measures by law cannot impact the DC budget. The initiative passed with more than 69 percent of the vote, but the outlook remains uncertain. The initiative is still subject to congressional review, and Republican Representative Andy Harris has made clear his plans to challenge it.

"a failed prohibitionist system"

"Oregonians had the wisdom to consider this measure based upon its merits and to move past the out-dated information of a failed prohibitionist system," Yes on 91, Oregon's pro-legalization campaign, said in a statement Tuesday. "This victory is just one more example of how Oregon is a special place filled with true trail blazers."

Opponents to legalization, meanwhile, pointed to the Florida result as a sign that the specter of a nationwide "green rush" is still far from reality. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, the medical marijuana initiative received 57 percent of the vote, according to the AP.

"The Florida result is a devastating loss for legalization advocates, who predicted a slam dunk there just a few months ago," Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), said in an email statement. "A backlash is beginning."

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and 17 have moved to decriminalize the drug to varying degrees.