It might not have been a fruitful election for President Obama and his fellow Democrats, but one faction of lefties and libertarians had a banner day: We're talking about drug-decriminalization supporters.
Voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. approved the legalization of limited amounts of recreational marijuana for the 21-and-older set. Californians approved categorizing minor drug possession as a misdemeanor, via Proposition 47. And New Jersey reformed its bail system in a way that will keep many low-level drug offenders out of prison.
But when it comes to marijuana, California is looking like the never-the-bride bridesmaid again this year. Despite our groundbreaking, 1996 initiative that made us the first state in the union to legalize medical marijuana, the Golden State has been slow to join the recreational craze. Activists say that's about to change.
Reform California, a coalition aiming for recreational legalization in California in 2016, today declared that there are “733 days until California votes to legalize cannabis.”
The group says that $8 million to $12 million will be needed to gather enough signatures to make the ballot and to campaign for passage.
But there are some heavy hitters on-board, including the Drug Policy Alliance, which had dropped out of efforts to get full legalization on yesterday's ballot, ostensibly over concerns about low voter turnout during midterm elections.
The election in 2016 is a presidential year and will likely energize more young, Democratic voters to get out and vote, which would bode well for legalization.
And then there's the uphill victories claimed by Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. (the district's win isn't assured as Congress can essentially override it, given D.C.'s unique jurisdiction).
Reform California indicates that there's a wave of positive momentum to be ridden here. Dale Sky Jones, chairwoman of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform and executive chancellor of Oaksterdam University, says:
We’re no longer talking about whether we’re going to legalize cannabis in California. We’re talking about how.