Recreational Pot Legalization: Inevitable or Another Electoral Defeat?


Approval of recreational marijuana use in even one state next month would be a dramatic step that most likely would face legal challenges but could also bring pressure on the federal government to consider modifying the national prohibition on marijuana that has been in place since 1937, backers tell USA Today. “One of these states crossing that Rubicon will immediately set up a challenge to the federal government,” says Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Whether that will happen is iffy. Independent polls have shown proponents leading in Washington and Colorado a month or more before the election, but the outcome remains in doubt, and both sides are aware of what happened in California in 2010, where a marijuana proposition 19 lost 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent after an early lead in favor disappeared. “It’s a similar trajectory here,” says Laura Chapin,? spokeswoman for a group opposing Colorado’s Amendment 64, who predicts the proposal will be defeated. John Matsusaka, a professor of law and business who is president of the Initiative & Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California, “It’s a matter of time before one of these passes.” Medical-marijuana proposals are on the ballot in three states: Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Montana.

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