Vote Pot!

Voters in six states will today be asked to cast their ballots in favor of drug-law reform. Specifically, voters in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, and South Dakota will weigh in on a series of marijuana-related ballot questions, from propositions that seek to make pot-law policing the lowest of law enforcement priorities, to a Nevada proposition that would make legal marijuana possession and use by adults.

Below, Reefer Madness gives you the scoop on each of the pot issues voters will decide:

In Eureka Springs, city voters will decide whether to direct local cops to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce or pot and/or the possession of pot paraphernalia. The measure is the first of its kind to make it onto an Arkansas ballot.

Voters in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Santa Monica, Calif., will also be asked to vote on muni measures (Measure P, Measure K, and Measure Y, respectively) that would make enforcement of all “adult marijuana offenses” the lowest police priorities. Voters in Seattle, Wash., in 2003 passed a measure similar to those on the California ballots, which resulted in a 75% decrease in marijuana arrests citywide, reports NORML.

A statewide ballot question in Colorado, known as Amendment 44, would reduce pot-related criminal penalties, bringing them in line with penalties associated with alcohol use. The so-called Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative would eliminate decriminalize the private possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older. This is the first equalization measure sponsored by the grassroots group Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation to make it onto a statewide ballot. SAFER has backed a series of successful equalization measures at various state universities, including UT, and voters in Denver last year passed a muni measure akin to the statewide proposition with 54% of the vote.

In Missoula, municipal Initiative 2 would make minor pot law violations the lowest police priority, and would create a “community oversight committee” tasked with ensuring police compliance. According to Citizens for Responsible Crime Policy, the I2 backers, a Missoulan is arrested on pot-related charges every 33 hours. Under current state law, possession of up to two ounces of pot is a misdemeanor punishable by no more than 6 months in the pokey and/or a $500 fine.

This is the second time that a statewide measure that would legalize and tax-and-regulate the use of marijuana by adults has landed on the Silver State ballot. Nevada’s Question 7 would not only legalize the use and possession of up to one ounce of pot by adults, but would also create a statewide system for growing and selling the substance. Further, Q7 would increase penalties associated with drugged driving and for providing pot to minors. Additionally, the measure would earmark a percentage of all pot-related revenues for drug rehab programs. The proposition seems to have gotten White House Office of the National Drug Control Policy drug czar John Walters’ panties in a twist: the czar and his minions have made a handful of stumping trips to the state in an attempt to scare voters away from the measure – recently Walters even suggested the measure was nothing more than a “Drug Dealer Protection Act.” While a similar measure that would’ve legalized possession and use of up to three ounces of pot by adults earned just 39% of the vote in 2002, the tide seems to be turning in favor of the latest measure, which has won the support of a network of state religious leaders and has secured the endorsement of the state’s largest paper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Indeed, state polls suggest Q7 has a real shot at passing – various polls report support hovering near 50%. Of all the drug policy initiatives out there, this is the one to watch.

Initiated Measure 4 is this season’s only medi-pot proposition on the ballot. IM4 would allow qualified, state authorized patients – those who have secured a doctor’s recommendation and have registered with the state Dept. of Health – to legally possess up to six plants and/or up to one ounce of pot for medicinal purposes. The measure would also create a so-called affirmative defense to prosecution for non-registered medi-pot patients, giving them the ability to raise a medical necessity claim at trial. If IM4 passes, South Dakota would become the ninth state to pass a comprehensive medi-mari law.

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