A Good Day for Intolerance

Voters say no to gays, marijuana, immigrants, and so on

Intolerance and ignorance swept the polls Nov. 2 in both Alaska and Oregon where voters rejected bids to legalize marijuana for adult use (Alaska) and to expand existing medical marijuana law (Oregon). In Alaska, voters were asked to decide whether the state should allow adults to grow, possess, or buy marijuana – a measure that until just days before the election had failed to attract any substantial organized opposition. According to the Anchorage Daily News, the opposition failed to coalesce until late last month, after headline news that a 16-year-old in Anchorage had been charged with first-degree murder for killing his stepmother and "dumping her in a freezer while high on marijuana." The tragedy – regardless of whether it was really related to marijuana – apparently dampened Alaskans' ordinarily robust individualism.

In Oregon, a bid to expand the state's medical marijuana law met a similar fate. The measure asked voters to expand the amount of pot that medi-marijuana patients could legally possess, among other additions to the medi-pot law passed by Oregonians in 1998. Interestingly, according to the Salem Statesman Journal, critics of the proposal disagreed on the reasons for its failure. Predictably, Marion Co. Deputy District Attorney Stephen Dingle told the daily that the measure failed because voters could clearly see that the attempt to provide relief for seriously ill patients was in fact just a "front to legalize marijuana." Not so predictably, Richard P. Burke, executive director of the state's Libertarian Party told the paper that the reason the measure failed was that it "included too much government oversight" over the dispensing of medi-pot.

Still, there were several bright spots in the medi-pot poll fights. In Montana, 63% of voters weighed in to approve legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, and in Ann Arbor, Mich., voters approved Proposal C, which legalizes medical marijuana as well as caps fines for marijuana possession for non-medi-pot users at $100, reports The Michigan Daily.

In other ballot issues nationwide, 11 states banned (pending court challenges) same-sex marriage; Coloradans nixed the effort to split the state's electoral votes; Arizona voters approved a measure to require proof of citizenship from applicants for various state benefits; and Californians refused to amend the Golden State's draconian "three strikes" law, but gave their OK to a $3 billion fund for stem cell research. And, as of press time, voters in Houston were supporting the less extreme of two competing measures to limit the growth of the municipal budget without voter approval.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Election 2004, medical marijuana, decriminalization, same sex marriage, three strikes

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