Clarence Thomas, one of the Supreme Court’s most conservative judges, said the contradicting policies on marijuana in the United States make it difficult to understand federal laws against the cultivation and use of the drug. The judge believes the federal laws regarding the possession of marijuana, following the precedent of the 2005 Supreme Court’s ruling, are outdated with how the legal system approaches the drug today. Thomas wrote, “A prohibition on interstate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government’s piecemeal approach.” Thom...
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This article was produced by Drug Reporter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
Marijuana is on the ballot in South Dakota in November this year. This is a state that has the dubious distinction of being the only one to twice defeat a medical marijuana initiative. And it has another dubious distinction: It's the only state where people get prosecuted for having marijuana show up on a drug test.
That South Dakota has reactionary drug laws is not surprising; it is a pretty reactionary state. It voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016—he beat Hillary Clinton by nearly 30 points here—and Republican Governor Kristi Noem has (in)famously discussed engraving Trump's image on Mount Rushmore with him. The state's congressional delegation is all-GOP, including Senate Majority Whip John Thune, and Republicans control both houses of the legislature as well, holding a super-majority in both for nearly a quarter-century.
Still, not one but two marijuana initiatives managed to find enough support to make the ballot, and local organizers supported by national reform groups New Approach PAC and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) are hoping that marijuana's momentum can overcome rock-ribbed Republican recalcitrance on the prairie come November.
The first, Initiated Measure 26, led by New Approach South Dakota, would create a medical marijuana program for patients with doctor-certified specified debilitating medical conditions. Patients could possess up to three ounces and grow up to three plants—or more if a doctor okays it. The state department of health would create and enforce rules and regulations.
The second, Constitutional Amendment A, would legalize possession, use, and distribution of marijuana up to an ounce by adults 21 and over and set up a system of taxed and regulated cultivation and sales. It would allow people to grow up to three plants at home—but only if there are no retail sales outlets in their local government jurisdiction. The amendment would also require the legislature to pass laws to legalize the sale of hemp and create a state medical marijuana program by April 1, 2022.
Can green win in red South Dakota? Perhaps the state isn't as red as it seems, suggested Michael Card, an associate professor of political science at the University of South Dakota.
"There are more no-party voter registrations now," he said in a phone interview. "Within five years, independents will probably come close to catching up to Republicans. Democrats are fleeing the party because they don't win."
That works for New Approach South Dakota: "Our campaign is really bipartisan; this isn't a partisan issue," said Melissa Mentele, the group's director. "It doesn't matter what your party is; this is something that has brought so many people together," she said during a phone interview.
And it's no longer the last century or even the last decade, pointed out MPP campaigns coordinator Jared Moffat, who is working with South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws in support of both initiatives.
"It's been 10 years since the last attempt to reform South Dakota's marijuana laws through the ballot, and in that time, a lot has changed," Moffat said in an email. "Support for marijuana policy reform has increased significantly in every part of the country and 11 states have adopted adult-use legalization laws—and they're working well. No state has made a serious attempt to repeal those laws. We also have recent internal polling of South Dakotans that suggests we have a great shot at passing both initiatives."
"We've had six years of education leading up to this medical marijuana initiative, the same bill has been sponsored twice in the legislature, it's been debated publicly, there's been a lot of media, and I think it's time," said Mentele. It will take a nice, slow, steady march to victory," she added.
When queried about the need for a separate medical marijuana initiative, she bristled just a bit.
"We need to press forward with both," she said. "Legalizing adult use is beneficial to the economy, but I'm a patient advocate; I'm about things like teaching people how to move off opioids and pharmaceuticals, and when adult-use programs come on board they tend to swallow medical programs. We don't want that to happen. We want two distinct markets with a tax break for patients. The people who aren't [using it for a] medical [purpose] can buy it and pay taxes, but a true medical marijuana program passes savings on to patients."
So, will both pass, will one pass, or will neither pass?
"If I had to predict, expecting high turnout for the presidential race, you're looking at Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County, the largest county in the state voting for it, and probably Brookings and Clay counties [home of South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota, respectively] and Union County and the reservation counties," said Card.
But that means a whole lot of South Dakota counties likely won't be voting for either medical or recreational marijuana this fall. Still, with the Sioux Falls metro area population of over 266,000 constituting nearly 30 percent of the entire state population, that makes up for a number of sparsely-populated, more conservative counties. It's going to be competitive.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the constitutional amendment passed because of the inclusion of industrial hemp and the taxation of marijuana," said Card. "If I were leading the campaign, I'd be telling people this is a tax you don't have to pay. It's also being supported by a former U.S. attorney, Brendan Johnson."
But, Card said, it's also possible that voters could reject legalization and just pass medical marijuana. "Our population is aging, we're seeing more patients, and even for many youths there are medicinal uses, so the idea that they could vote down legalization and approve medical is certainly plausible," he said.
"The governor is very strongly against marijuana in any way, shape, or form," said Card. "She [Noem] kept the South Dakota legislature from adopting a farmers' hemp cultivation bill. She drew a line in the sand and said no way."
Noem is not alone in opposing marijuana reforms; the usual suspects are also out to block it. In July, the South Dakota Medical Association came out against both initiatives and will write the opposition statement that will appear on the general election ballot. The association maintains that marijuana is a hazardous drug and a public health concern.
Also in July, the legalization initiative drew organized opposition in the form of a ballot committee calling itself NO Way on Amendment A. That group is led by David Own, the president of the state Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He is being joined by law enforcement, public officials, and social work leaders.
"South Dakota's current marijuana laws aren't working, and they are not serving South Dakotans' best interests," argued Moffat. "Amendment A and Measure 26 will fix what's broken and establish a commonsense approach that provides relief to patients, improves public safety, and strengthens South Dakota's economy."
The campaign is still honing messages for key voters, Moffat added, but will likely emphasize the need for tax revenues in the face of economic downturns and the need to get marijuana out of the criminal justice system. He noted that one out of 10 arrests in the state in 2018 was for marijuana. The campaign will also make the argument that passage of the constitutional amendment is necessary to protect medical marijuana from legislative chicanery, as happened with a campaign finance law approved by voters in 2016 and gutted in Pierre.
"The campaign is in decent financial shape in small-market South Dakota and ready to do battle," said Moffat.
"With significant in-state and national support, as well as an expanding small-dollar fundraising effort, we are feeling good about the campaign budget at this point. Compared to other states where there are competitive national races, we expect our advertising dollars will go pretty far in South Dakota," Moffat added. "We never want to underestimate the opposition. Right now, it's not clear what they are willing to spend, in terms of both money and political capital, to fight us. My sense is that they're not willing to expend much, but that could change. We'll have to see."
Indeed. Early voting starts on September 18.
Phillip Smith is a writing fellow and the editor and chief correspondent of Drug Reporter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has been a drug policy journalist for the past two decades. He is the longtime author of the Drug War Chronicle, the online publication of the non-profit StopTheDrugWar.org, and has been the editor of AlterNet's Drug Reporter since 2015. He was awarded the Drug Policy Alliance's Edwin M. Brecher Award for Excellence in Media in 2013.
A vice president has to defer to the president's decisions on policy, but vice presidents can also help shape it. Dick Cheney pushed George W. Bush to invade Iraq, and Joe Biden gave Barack Obama a nudge to endorse same-sex marriage. Maybe Kamala Harris will convince Biden to push for legalizing marijuana.
There are reasons to think so. One was her laughing reply last year when an interviewer asked if she had ever smoked cannabis: "Half my family's from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?" Another is that as attorney general of California, she endorsed legalization of recreational weed, which the state's voters approved in 2016.
She is also the lead sponsor on legislation to lift the longstanding federal ban on cannabis. Her bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, leaving its status up to individual states, while authorizing expungement and sentencing review for those previously convicted of federal cannabis offenses. That Harris introduced this measure during the presidential campaign suggests she's genuinely committed to the change — and unafraid of the controversy.
Her bill targets an exasperating anomaly. States are fully entitled to outlaw and punish marijuana use, but they have only limited authority to allow it. That's because of the federal government's ban. It can go after cannabis consumers and suppliers even in states that have legalized pot.
That happens to be most of them. This year, Illinois became the 11th state (along with the District of Columbia) to allow recreational use by adults. Medical use is sanctioned in 33 states. Most Americans now live in states that provide legal access.
But we all live in a nation that doesn't. No matter what a state does, or tries to do, the federal government retains the ultimate power. And that fact hangs ominously over everything.
Under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration raided state-approved medical marijuana shops and prosecuted their owners. Not until 2013, did Obama's Justice Department issue a memo telling federal prosecutors to back off.
As attorney general under Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions made a big deal of scrapping that policy. His successor also has the mindset of an undercover narc. In June, a Justice Department lawyer came forward to accuse William Barr of harassing legal cannabis companies with unjustified antitrust investigations because of his "personal dislike of the industry."
Removing the federal threat would make it much easier and safer for companies to operate in the legal pot sector, and for financial institutions to treat them like normal businesses. It would free every state to make its own choices without chronic fear of the federal hammer.
Democrats need no convincing. Almost every candidate in the presidential primaries came out in favor of legalizing pot at the federal level.
They have the public overwhelmingly on their side. A Gallup Poll last year found that 66 percent of Americans — and 51 percent of Republicans — think marijuana use should be legal, period. People of every age group agree, with the exception of those 65 and older, who were split 49 percent to 49 percent.
But one candidate has yet to be persuaded: Biden. He has moved in that direction, endorsing decriminalization of recreational use, legalization for medical use and expungement of convictions. He also supports classifying cannabis as a federal Schedule II drug, which is reserved for dangerous drugs that have medical value, instead of its current Schedule I.
That's the big difference between him and Harris, whose bill would "de-schedule" marijuana — removing it from the Controlled Substances Act and leaving the matter up to the states. Re-scheduling, by contrast, "means retaining criminal penalties for possession without a prescription," Justin Strekal, political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told me.
Biden may not be willing to adopt a more liberal stance before November, if only because his lead in the polls gives him no reason to change. But though the onetime drug war supporter is not there yet, he has already gone all but the last mile. If he gets to the White House, he will have Harris to escort him the rest of the way.
She, after all, has gone so far as to say of cannabis, "I think it gives a lot of people joy, and we need more joy in the world." If she can persuade President Biden to follow her lead on marijuana, there will be plenty of joy to go around.
Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
According to a comprehensive review by the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, “few marijuana users become dependent” upon pot. By contrast, those who drink alcohol are nearly twice as likely to do so problematically. Nonetheless, over half of all young people admitted to drug treatment programs are there for their involvement with marijuana, and this percentage is steadily rising. So what’s going on?
A just-published analysis of federal drug treatment admissions data – knows as TEDS-A (Treatment Episode Data Set – Admissions) – by researchers at Binghamton University and the University of Iowa sheds some light on this issue, and it’s disturbing.
According to the study, which analyzed youth (ages 12 to 20) marijuana treatment admissions during the years 1995 to 2012, both the total number of drug treatment admissions and the number of admissions exclusively for marijuana increased over this 18-year period. Specifically, the number of youth admitted for weed rose from 52,894 in 1995 to 87,528 in 2012 – an increase of 65 percent. (Overall, just under 1.5 million teens were admitted to treatment for alleged cannabis dependence this period.)
Yet, well publicized data from the US Centers for Disease Control, Monitoring the Future, and others reports that daily, monthly, and yearly marijuana use by young people declined sharply during much of this same period. Perhaps even more importantly, studies further report that rates of problematic marijuana – so-called “cannabis use disorder” (CUD) – also fell significantly. For example, data published last week by investigators at the US National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) finds that the prevalence of past year CUD in young people fell 25 percent in the years between 2002 and 2014. Their findings mimicked those of a 2016 NIDA-funded study which similarly reported a 24 percent decline in problematic pot use by young people.
So, if fewer young people are using pot – and even fewer are doing so problematically – why are more teens than ever before winding up in substance abuse treatment programs? The answer lies with the criminal justice system.
Between 1995 and 2012, the percentage of young people referred to drug treatment as a result of a criminal arrest rose 70 percent, researchers reported. As a result, as of 2012, 53 percent of all youth drug treatment admissions came directly from criminal justice referrals. (Among adults, this percentage has historically been even higher.)
Predictably, as the percentage of criminal justice referrals has increased, so too has the percentage of minority youth being coerced into drug treatment programs. (Studies consistently find that African Americans and Hispanics are arrested for drug law violations, and marijuana possession specifically, at rates far greater than whites – even though their drug use rates are little different.) Since 1995, Black youth admitted to drug treatment for marijuana increased 86 percent. The percentage of Latino admissions grew by 256 percent. By contrast, white youth admissions increased only 11 percent during this same time period.
Perhaps most importantly, the authors of this new study acknowledge that many of the teens now being mandated to attend drug treatment don’t appear to belong there because they exhibit little evidence of having suffered from any deleterious mental or physical health problems specific to their cannabis use. In fact, since 2008, 30 percent of all young people in treatment for alleged marijuana dependence had no record of having even used pot in the 30 days prior to their admittance – much less exhibiting signs of being dependent upon the herb. Another 20 percent of the teens admitted had used pot fewer than three times in the past month. “Our findings indicate that the severity of drug use involved in those admissions has decreased,” authors concluded. “This study highlights the importance of identifying youth in actual need of treatment services.”
Indeed. At a time when our nation is in the grip of rising opioid abuse, America’s limited drug treatment services are primarily being used to warehouse those who occasionally use – or, more likely – have been arrested for pot.
Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and serves as a senior policy advisor for Freedom Leaf, Inc. He is the co-author of the book, Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (Chelsea Green, 2013).
IMAGE: Cannabis buds are shown on first day of legal recreational marijuana sales beginning at midnight in Portland, Oregon in this October 1, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola/Files
Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich on Wednesday signed a bill legalizing marijuana use for medical purposes under certain circumstances, his office said.
Over the last few years, state legislatures and voters in the United States have been much more receptive to making marijuana legal for medical purposes, and to a lesser extent, recreational use.
The Ohio legislature approved the measure in May.
Some 24 states and Washington D.C. currently allow some type of medical marijuana use, and just a handful of states allow its recreational use. It remains illegal on the federal level.
Kasich, who earlier this year dropped out of the U.S. presidential race, signed the bill but provided no statement on Wednesday.
The Ohio legislation only allows patients with specific medical conditions to use an oil, edible, tincture or vapor form of marijuana prescribed by a physician licensed in the state, starting in 2017.
Medical marijuana users would not be allowed to smoke or grow their own marijuana under the measure, which also would create a commission responsible for regulating and licensing of all operations of the drug.
The measure was fast-tracked to head off a possible less-restrictive medical marijuana ballot initiative in November. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana suspended their campaign for the ballot measure late last month, saying that while the lawmakers’ bill had its shortcomings, it was “a moderately good piece of legislation.”
Last November, Ohio voters soundly rejected a measure that would have made it the first U.S. Midwestern state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The proposal was criticized for allowing the main backers of the proposal cartel-like powers over the industry in the state for several years.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Kim Palmer in Destin, Fla.; Editing by Matthew Lewis
Photo: Marijuana plants are seen in an indoor cultivation in Montevideo December 6, 2013. REUTERS/Andres Stapff
By Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times (TNS)
Ohio voters soundly rejected a marijuana initiative Tuesday that would have legalized recreational and medicinal use of the drug, and would have limited commercial growing to a small group of investors who drafted and promoted the measure.
The initiative was failing 65 percent to 35 percent, with more than three-quarters of precincts reporting.
“Issue 3 has been soundly defeated!” Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies crowed on Twitter. “No marijuana monopolies in this state!”
Four other states and the District of Columbia have already legalized the recreational sale of marijuana, which is still a federal crime. Ohio would have been the first state in the Midwest to do so.
But along with opposition from anti-drug groups and state elected officials, Ohio’s unorthodox initiative drew discomfort from some legalization supporters.
“This year’s initiative failed because a greed-driven monopoly plan is wrong for the state of Ohio,” one competing pro-legalization group, Legalize Ohio 2016, said in a statement. “Some activists were let down tonight because they put their faith in a bad plan, but their efforts have brought us a step closer to legalizing marijuana in 2016.”
Opponents alleged that Issue 3 would have effectively set up a monopoly by limiting commercial marijuana growth to 10 preselected plots of land owned by the entrepreneurs behind the measure.
A group of 24 investors backing the measure included former NBA star Oscar Robertson, descendants of President William Howard Taft and former boy-band celebrity Nick Lachey.
The “ResponsibleOhio” legalization campaign was driven by political consultant Ian James, who acknowledged he would profit from the measure.
“The honest and most easy response is: I am going to profit from this,” James told the Center for Public Integrity in June. “If people are upset about me making money, I don’t know what to say other than that that’s part of the American process. To win and make this kind of change for social justice, it does cost a lot of money.”
In a televised concession speech Tuesday night, James called the loss “a bump in the road” and accused state legislators of “refus(ing) to deal with the voters.”
State legislators seeking to derail Issue 3 had presented voters with an “anti-monopoly” initiative, Issue 2, designed to nullify the marijuana initiative and ban special-interest groups from creating constitutional amendments for financial gain.
Both measures appeared on the ballot Tuesday, presenting a potential legal conundrum if each one passed.
Generally, under Ohio law, whichever ballot measure receives more votes prevails.
But Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who opposed the legalization effort, said if both measures passed the legislators’ anti-monopoly initiative would have prevailed because it would go into effect immediately, while the voter-initiated marijuana measure would take 30 days.
In that case, experts expected the marijuana-initiative supporters to take the matter to court.
The vote for the anti-monopoly initiative was much closer. It was leading, 52 percent to 48 percent, with 76 percent of precincts reporting.
The defeat of the marijuana measure was the first such loss for a recreational legalization initiative since 2012, and the first loss for marijuana advocates more generally since Florida rejected medical marijuana last year, according to John Hudak, a fellow with the Brookings Institute.
“The forces of defeat had more to do with timing, referendum language, demographics, and other ballot initiatives than it did with public opinion on the issue,” Hudak wrote in an instant analysis of the measure’s defeat.
Hudak added that ResponsibleOhio was “never able to consolidate the marijuana reform community inside or outside Ohio, and the ballot measure’s fate was dramatically affected by it.”
In a statement after the vote, Tom Angell of the pro-legalization group the Marijuana Majority called Issue 3 a “flawed measure” that “didn’t represent what voters wanted.
“Tonight’s results — and the choices that inevitably led up to them — are especially sad for Ohioans who use marijuana and will continue to be treated like criminals for no good reason,” Angell wrote.
On Twitter, Angell also scolded the measure’s backers using the hashtag #HowNotToLegalizeMarijuana. In another tweet, he said, “You idiots.”
Issue 3 also aimed to establish a marijuana control commission to regulate growth, distribution and sales in the state.
The measure would have imposed a 15 percent tax on gross revenues of growing operations and a 5 percent tax on gross revenues of retail marijuana stores, plus annual licensing fees.
Fifty-five percent of the taxes would have been distributed to cities and townships and 30 percent to counties for infrastructure and public safety purposes. The remaining 15 percent would have gone to the marijuana commission.
Photo: Ohio would have been the first state in the midwest to legalize marijuana. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
By Evan Halper and Kurtis Lee, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)
WASHINGTON — Pot is very much on the minds of voters, with millions poised to decide whether to legalize it. That raises a tantalizing question for presidential candidates: Is there political opportunity in the wind?
Some are beginning to believe there is.
The latest sign was the full-throated call last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders to end federal prohibition. With that one move, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination plunged into uncharted territory — and, arguably, so did the presidential race.
Never before has a contender with so much to lose so unequivocally suggested that smoking a joint should be viewed the same as drinking a beer, at least in the eyes of the law.
The move was about more than Sanders’ signature straight talk. It could give the Vermont senator a much-needed boost in some primary states, especially in the West.
Some pollsters and strategists are surprised it has taken this long for a leading candidate to promote legalization this forcefully.
“Politicians are terrible at anything new,” said Celinda Lake, a Washington political strategist who has worked on pot initiatives. “They always miss the trends where voters are ahead of them.”
She says voter opinion is shifting on marijuana as rapidly as it did on same-sex marriage, another issue where lawmakers struggled to keep pace with evolving public attitudes.
A new Gallup poll found that 58 percent of voters say marijuana should be legalized, suggesting there is not a lot of risk in embracing it. More important, the pot vote draws a demographic highly coveted by campaign operatives: It’s young, diverse and up for grabs.
But there may be danger in doubling down on the dime bag.
“It can easily be turned against them,” said Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-legalization group.
What happens, he asked, when a pro-pot candidate is confronted at a town hall by the parent of a child who had a “psychotic episode” after consuming a pot lollipop? “How do you defend against that?”
The candidates are grappling with legalization at the same time that drug abuse is a prominent issue in the primaries, with a heroin epidemic a key concern of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold contests.
Republican contender Carly Fiorina has spoken emotionally about losing her stepdaughter to addiction.
And there is disagreement among strategists about just how rapidly public opinion has shifted in the voting groups that count most in a closely contested election, such as Latinos and older women.
“There are too many battleground states where it is still controversial,” said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster.
Sanders framed his language carefully. “Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use,” he said at George Mason University in Virginia on Wednesday. “That’s wrong. That has got to change.”
He said he would take marijuana off the federal government’s list of illegal drugs, leaving states free to regulate it the way they do alcohol and tobacco.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican, has taken a similar plunge, but the stakes are higher for Sanders, who is far more popular with voters.
Other candidates are fumbling their way forward.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has told small audiences in the pot havens of Oregon and Colorado that marijuana businesses in states where it is legal need relief from federal restrictions that can make it impossible for them to operate.
Yet her campaign refused to accept a donation from the cannabis industry’s trade group, and in the first Democratic debate she took a “wait and see” position.
Some Republicans, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, aggressively oppose legalization. Christie, a former federal prosecutor, has taken the hardest line, vowing a crackdown. Other Republicans say they would let states continue experimenting.
“Politicians have been three steps behind the public on this,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., a leading legalization proponent in Congress. “The train is already leaving the station. There is huge opportunity. It is going to be on the ballot in swing states.”
The impact on political candidates was unclear when legalization came before voters last year. Alaskans voted to legalize recreational use while also electing a Republican senator, Dan Sullivan, who opposed the move.
Oregonians also voted to legalize, while at the same time re-electing an incumbent governor, Democrat John Kitzhaber, who did not support legalization.
In Florida, Democrats had hoped a popular medical marijuana measure would give them the edge in the 2014 governor’s race. It didn’t. Although 58 percent of voters supported medical marijuana, Republican Rick Scott won the gubernatorial election.
Those bullish on the boost that pot can provide say the landscape will be dramatically different in 2016, a presidential election year, when turnout is expected to be younger and more diverse — and candidates such as Sanders and Paul are not tiptoeing around the issue.
Legalization for recreational use is expected to be on the ballot in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada.
The state being watched most now, though, is Ohio. Voters in that battleground state will decide on a legalization measure Tuesday. Candidates will closely monitor the outcome.
“This is the gay marriage issue of the day,” said John Morgan, an Orlando, Fla., trial lawyer, who spent more than $4 million of his own money on the Florida medical pot measure. It fell short of meeting the state’s unusually high threshold of 60 percent for an initiative to pass.
So Morgan is bankrolling another measure for next year.
In late spring, he hosted a fundraiser at his home for Clinton.
“Many of them are not leaders, they’re followers,” he said of politicians. “We saw that on gay marriage and other issues, and now we’ll probably see it on marijuana at some point. At some point they’ll say ‘whatever’ and go along with what’s right.”
(Halper reported from Washington and Lee from Los Angeles.)
Photo: A marijuana leaf is displayed at Canna Pi medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Washington, November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante
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