BuzzFeed News takes a look at the initiatives voters across the country will decide on Nov. 4 — and whether the referendums have a chance of passing.
Buds are removed from a container at a medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon.
Steve Dipaola / Reuters
Voters in Washington, DC and Oregon Tuesday voted to legalize different levels of recreational marijuana use — the latest signs of a national attitude toward marijuana has been slowly shifting over the past decades, with polls now indicating that a majority of people in the country now support legalization.
In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational use of the drug. Eighteen states have decriminalized marijuana, and 23 states have passed laws in support of medical marijuana.
Legislatures have been slow to support marijuana, so advocates have taken action by pushing for voter decided ballot measures. On Nov. 4, Residents in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., will decided whether to legalize marijuana. In Florida, voters will decide on a medical marijuana program, and a few cities have added decriminalization bills to the ballot. Guam, a U.S. territory, approved a medical marijuana measure earlier Tuesday.
Alaskans will vote Tuesday on a ballot measure that would legalize a market for recreational marijuana, allowing the state to tax and regulate the drug similarly to alcohol. The measure would also allow residents to possess one ounce of marijuana and grow limited amounts in private.
Alaska was one of the first states to decriminalize weed in 1975 and legalized medical marijuana in 1998. Despite this, thousands of Alaskans have been arrested for possession and there’s no system for medical card holders to acquire weed from dispensaries. Supporters say the new measure would strengthen Alaska’s existing laws, which legislators aren’t upholding.
Recent polls have shown voters are split on the issue, with one poll showing a majority of voters supporting the measure, and another showing the opposite. If marijuana is legalized in Alaska, it could bring in more than $7 million in state taxes in its first year, according to a marijuana advocacy group.