Many Pro-Freedom Ballot Measures Passed
DRUG WAR ELECTION ROUNDUP
Below is a news report from our friends at drcnet.org
A number of drug war-related measures were on the ballot November 7. Here is a summary of each one and the results of the vote.
ALASKA: Marijuana Legalization failed: 39.56% in favor, 60.44% opposed
Ballot Measure #5 would have done away with civil and criminal penalties for persons 18 years or older who use marijuana or other hemp products. It would also have granted amnesties to persons previously convicted of marijuana crimes, and established a panel to study the question of reparations for those harmed by marijuana prohibition. DRCNet had no position on the panel but supported Measure #5 because of its other provisions.
CALIFORNIA: Sentencing Reform passed: 60.8% in favor, 39.2% opposed
Proposition 36 will require that those convicted of nonviolent drug possession offenses for the first or second time be offered rehabilitation programs instead of state prison.
DRCNet's endorsement last week of Prop. 36, and of Massachusetts Question 8, contained a minor inaccuracy on a fine point of the law. The initiatives technically don't require coerced treatment, but require that treatment be offered to drug offenders who would otherwise have no choice but incarceration -- essentially coerced treatment, but not exactly. DRCNet considers any criminal punishment for simple drug use to be inappropriate, but endorsed Prop. 36 as a politically realistic step in the right direction.
MENDOCINO COUNTY, CA: Marijuana Decriminalization passed: 58% in favor, 42% opposed
Mendocino County Measure G will allow adults to grow 25 plants apiece, but not for sale. The measure further directs the county sheriff and prosecutor to make marijuana crimes their last priority and directs county officials to seek an end to state and federal marijuana laws.
This measure is partially symbolic, since state and local law enforcement can still prosecute marijuana crimes, but will relieve some law enforcement pressure and help to fuel debate.
COLORADO: Medical Marijuana passed: 54% in favor, 46% opposed
Amendment 20 provides for legal medical marijuana use by patients with serious illnesses. Following the Americans for Medical Rights (AMR) template, the measure sets low limits of the quantity of marijuana and limits approved uses to certain illnesses or symptoms specified in the initiative or added later by the state.
DRCNet did not endorse the measure's limits on quantity and conditions which qualify, but supported Amendment 20 because current Colorado has offers no such protections, and some protection for medical marijuana patients is better than none.
MASSACHUSETTS: Sentencing and Asset Forfeiture Reform failed: 47% in favor, 53% opposed
Question 8 would have diverted nonviolent drug offenders from prison to drug treatment at their request. It would also direct forfeited proceeds to a drug treatment trust fund and would require the civil equivalent of a guilty verdict before allowing property to be forfeited, instead of the easier-to-obtain probable cause rulings that suffice currently.
Other provisions, which ultimately led to the initiative's defeat, would have provided the treatment option to those arrested for low-level drug dealing as well as those arrested for simple possession.
DRCNet endorsed Question 8, with the same qualification as stated above for California Prop. 36.
NEVADA: Medical Marijuana passed: 65% in favor, 35% opposed
Question 9 was the required second round of popular voting to approve this initiative. When DRCNet endorsed this measure last week, we mistakenly wrote that "the measure sets low limits on the quantity of marijuana..." In fact, according to CSDP's Fratello, any limits will be determined by the legislature.
OREGON: Asset Forfeiture Reform passed: 66% in favor, 34% opposed
Ballot Measure 3 will hold the state government to stricter standards of proof that property was the proceeds of crime or used to commit a crime. It also bars forfeiture unless the owner of the property is first convicted of a crime involving the seized property. Law enforcement would be restricted to claiming no more than 25% of seized assets.
UTAH: Asset Forfeiture Reform passed: 68.9% in favor, 31.1% opposed
Initiative B will hold the state government to stricter standards of proof that property was the proceeds of crime or used to commit a crime. It also bars forfeiture unless the owner of the property is first convicted of a crime involving the seized property. Profits from seized assets will be deposited in the school fund.
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