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Election 2017: Legalization Candidates and Measures Win Big

November 7, 2017
(bizoo_n/iStock)
Final Update: This was a small but significant night for cannabis-tied races and measures around the country. New Jersey’s pro-legalization gubernatorial candidate, Phil Murphy, won handily, and will take over for the nation’s most notorious prohibitionist, Chris Christie. In Detroit, two medical marijuana reform ordinances passed easily, with about 60% of the vote. And in Athens, Ohio, voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to de-penalize cannabis possession, with a whopping 77% of voters approving the measure.

Final Results

10:15pm EST:

Democrat Phil Murphy, Legalization Advocate, Will Be New Jersey’s Next Governor.

This is fantastic news for the folks in NJ who’ve been battling Chris Christie over medical marijuana for thousands and thousands of years. Murphy isn’t just a medical cannabis believer. He wants to adopt adult-use and has pledged to sign the bill that legalization advocates are readying in the state legislature.

Democrat Ralph Northam Defeats Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia

If you’re a legalization advocate, this is a slight victory. Neither candidate has embraced adult-use legalization. Northam wants to decriminalize, while Gillespie would have allowed for tightly restricted medical marijuana (maybe). Don’t look for major change on the cannabis front here.

Detroit Approves New Medical Marijuana Ordinances

With 90% of the vote in, both measures are passing with about 60% of the vote.

Related

Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Michigan, Fall 2017

Athens, Ohio, Voters “De-Penalize” Cannabis in Their City

The measure to zero-out the fine for cannabis possession within the city limits passed by a whopping 77%. That’s amazing. Folks, the school levy in Athens only passed by 65%.

Colorado Municipalities OK Cannabis Tax Increases

Voters around Colorado approved new local taxes on cannabis.

In Eagle County, residents OK’d new sales and excise taxes on adult-use cannabis. The taxes, which will fund mental health programs, will start at 2.5% and eventually reach 5%. The tiny western Colorado town of De Beque approved a new sales tax of 5% on medical cannabis, although the town doesn’t have any medical marijuana dispensaries.

Related

Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Colorado, Fall 2017

In Longmont, a 3% tax on adult-use cannabis sales appears headed toward victory there, and voters in Berthoud appear to have approved a 7% adult-use cannabis sales tax there.

New York State Voters Really, Really Don’t Want a Constitutional Convention

A landslide here. 83% of ballots cast said “no” to this idea. Got to give a hat tip to the folks at Cannabis 4 NY, though, for this painfully honest email sent out Wednesday morning:

9:48pm EST: Don’t Hold Your Breath for Those Athens Results

The good public servants in Athens, Ohio, are still tallying the votes on their decrim measure. At least we hope somebody’s in the office with the lights on. Not sure. Their web page has been nothing but 404 all night.

9:31pm EST: Not Looking Good for NY State Constitutional Convention

This is the measure that could, in theory, lead to a state constitutional convention that might include an amendment to legalize cannabis. It’s going down heavily in early returns. With 26% of precincts reporting, the “no” votes are leading by about 80% to 20%.

8:26pm EST: Phil Murphy Looks Like Solid Winner in New Jersey

NBC has him as their projected victor, and their exit polls offer pretty overwhelming evidence. Those polls have him as a 58-40 winner over Guadagno. Early ballot results are tracking along those lines. This is excellent news for legalization advocates, who are ready to move through the NJ legislature as soon as Murphy is sworn in.

8:18pm EST: CNN Now Projecting Northam as Next Virginia Governor

They have him at 51.3% and climbing, while Ed Gillespie seems to be stalling out at around 47.5%.

8:09pm EST: NBC Projects Northam in Virginia, Murphy in NJ

Okay we get Northam, but seriously the polls just closed in New Jersey. Like 9 minutes ago.

8:04pm EST: CNN Has Virginia for Northam at 51% Now

That’s a flip-flop from about half an hour ago.

7:58pm EST: One More Reason to Watch NJ Gov’s Race

NYU scholar makes a good point, in re New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D-Bribery Trial).

7:52pm EST: Bit of a Disparity There

NBC News reporter Steve Kornacki has these exit poll results from New Jersey:

7:42pm EST: Polls Close at 8pm in New Jersey, Murphy Gathers in Asbury Park

Greetings from…the Asbury Park Convention Hall, where Democrats are gathering to await the first returns.

 

7:38pm EST: Ed Gillespie Out to Early Lead in Virginia

CNN has the Republican leading with 51.7%, to Democrat Ralph Northam’s 47.0%, with about 11% of precincts reporting. Northam favors legal medical marijuana; Gillespie is skeptical and wants a much more “limited” MMJ policy.

7:29pm EST: Polls Close at 7:30pm in Athens, Ohio

You have one minute to vote on that decrim measure, Athenians! We’re just posting this mainly to use the term Athenians. Which we will be doing all night.

7:15pm EST: We don’t know who’s winning yet, but we know who’s losing…

NBC News is exit polling New Jersey voters about their opinion of cannabis prohibitionist and outgoing Gov. Chris Christie. Result?

 

 

Races We’re Following:

Statewide Measures

New York

Voters in New York will have the chance to vote on a constitutional convention question on this year’s ballot. Voting yes would trigger a constitutional convention, which would allow changes to be proposed to the state Constitution. Voters would be then able to weigh in on those changes in a November 2019 election.

A constitutional convention could open the door for the statewide legalization of adult-use cannabis via a change to the state’s Constitution, although the likelihood of that change is less than certain, and the change wouldn’t take place for several years.

Related

Drug Policy Alliance: Time to Decriminalize, NYC Racial Disparities Remain

If voters were to approve the convention, the process would begin in 2018 with the election of more than 200 delegates, with three representing each of the state’s 63 Senate districts and an additional 15 individuals from anywhere in the state.

Citywide Measures

Detroit, Michigan

Voters in Wayne County will decide the fate of Proposal A and Proposal B, both of which would amend current medical marijuana laws.

Related

Detroit Voters Will Have Say in Cannabis Regulations

Proposal A would change the Detroit City Code to require a dispensary to be at least 500 feet from another dispensary and a religious institution, down from the current requirement of 1,000 feet. Proposal A would also allow dispensaries near alcohol retailers, child care centers, arcades, and parks. Under Proposal A, dispensaries would be allowed to stay open until 9 p.m., extending the current required closing time by one hour.

Proposal B, meanwhile, would allow growers and secure transporters to establish and operate within Detroit’s industrial districts (zoned M1-5) and business districts (zoned B1-5).

Athens, Ohio

The Athens Cannabis Ordinance would reduce penalties for cannabis misdemeanors to a fine of $0, effectively “depenalizing” low-level cannabis possession, cultivation, and gifting. Marijuana misdemeanors affected would include:

  • Possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana and up to 10 grams of hash
  • Cultivation of up to 200 grams of marijuana
  • Gifts of up to 20 grams of marijuana
  • Possession and sale of paraphernalia
Related

Ohio’s Aspiring Cannabis Growers: A Closer Look

Gubernatorial Races

New Jersey Governor

New Jersey’s gubernatorial race will pick a replacement for current Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who’s lashed out against both medical and adult-use cannabis legalization—most recently in a report to the Trump administration.

Related

If New Jersey Legalizes, Do I Have to Move Back Home?

From a cannabis perspective, the stakes couldn’t be higher: While either candidates would likely be an improvement over Christie, Democratic nominee Phil Murphy, who currently leads the race, wants to legalize cannabis for adult-use. His opponent, Republican Kim Guadagno—currently Christie’s lieutenant governor—does not. She’s said she’s “wholly opposed to legalizing marijuana”—although she’s indicated support for limited decriminalization and some expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Virginia Governor

Currently holding a narrow lead in the polls is Democratic nominee Ralph Northam, the state’s lieutenant governor, who has said he supports medical marijuana and would make a push for decriminalizing the drug if he’s elected. He’s called the state’s current enforcement and sentencing laws “costly and disproportionately harmful to communities of color.”

Related

Infographic: The Fastest-Trending Cannabis Strain in Every State in 2017

Northam’s opponent, Republican Ed Gillespie, is more sluggish about reform. He’s said he opposes decriminalization because it “sends the wrong signal” to young people, but he said he would support a three-strikes approach that would remove criminal charges for the first and second offenses. By then, he told a crowd in Richmond in September, “you really should know better.” On medical use, Gillespie is similarly half-committed: He’s said he supports “limited, tightly regulated” use of cannabis for some medical conditions.

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  • Simon Hardinsky

    O.K. I will vote for Ralph Northam for governor of Virginia but I remember Donald Trump wearing a red hat with a marijuana emblem on the front at a rally when he said that the war against drugs wasn’t working.

    • Left wing POS

      But Jeff Sessions has a hard on for Cannabis.

    • Ivana Schtupp

      He said anything to get elected, hon….like most politicians. His AG wants to crack down on cannabis.

  • Burt Michaels

    I’m a 50-something year-old white man so I’m allowed to say this: old white men need to start dying. At least the ones who think that the Treaty at Appomattox is just the longest ceasefire in history, the ones who think that “the demon weed” will cause their daughters to miscegenate with black men or their sons to move to a city and study art. There’s no use reasoning with them – they just have to die off.

    • MD Lowery

      Umm… Mike B can u run for president? 😉

    • Kimmi Monroe

      Yes…love this.

    • Gonna CTCBOT

      Ummm??? SOME old white men, not all. The rest of us “dropped out and turned on.”

      • Dev O

        {Gonna CTCBOB) I’m with YOU!!!!

        • Paul

          I’m 62 and started growing my own 7 year ago, wish I had started many years sooner.

    • Chris Borrelli

      douche response. This isn’t a race issue. Its informed vs. ignorance. Dems can be prohibitionists and Reps can be for legalization or vice versa. Don’t join the douche crew, we’re all on the same side here.

      • Calicorock

        You do realize that the GOP Party platform is staunchly prohibtionist and “lock them up?” Until this changes, Republicans honestly don’t deserve our votes.

        • nixnoutz

          Voted 3rd party in 2016. Gary Johnson. There is a voting alternative. Overthrow the Electoral College.

          • Tired of this S@*t

            Gary has already said he will not seek the 2020 Presidency.

  • Nfor Johner

    CBD Oil/THC is the ANSWER. I am 48 years young and I have several pains and anxiety No more PHENOBARBITOL or DILANTIN 6 pills a day-Thanks to Dr Peter Hurt for their top quality highly efficient CBD oil. 1 drop under my tongue twice a day and the glaucoma go away. I will do everything within my power to educate people about CBD.Text/Call # (804) 537-0917

  • Debbie McNally

    I have a question can anyone please recommend how to treat Restless Legs with cannabis. I am currently taking Gabapentin 600 mg and I vape some Romulan oil and I can sleep but I would love to just use cannabis.

    • jordan Wilson

      I got relief from PTSD,pains and depression from Cannabis meds and hemp oil i got from Dr Mc Donald via his number (313) 923-7690 .

      • Brave Mykayla

        I just benefited from Dr Mc Donald services his Cannabis Oil in Capsule treat my Pain and Parkinson’s disease, i get on him via his #(313) 923-7690

        • Dominique scolos

          Am so impressed on Dr Mc Donald i just got some medical marijuana/ CBD Cannabis Oil and medical card comes in today go for him my anxiety and pains are relieved. Phone # (313) 923-7690

          • Brittany A . Freitas

            i try him out too just to discover his high potent THC/CBD Oil is the best for my pains and Parkinson’s diseases , i got seeds and medical marijuana card from him to Phone # (313) 923-7690

          • Chris Borrelli

            Dont fall for scams like these. Unless you live in a weed state and the seller is local, just get a teenage friend or use your kids friends to get your weed til it becomes legal countrywide, which is 5 years away at this point although states are elvolving quicker than the corrupt, murderous and money mad feds

    • Michael Bertrand

      If you have restless legs when you sleep, simply put a bar of soap in one corner of your bed under the sheets. I know how ridiculous this sounds but it really does work. I do as well as several people that I have told and they all say it works for them including one person that has spinal stenosis. I have nothing against cannabis and use it as a medication in an edible form for arthritis that I buy from a dispensary and would not give it up as I think using the two methods together makes it work even better. I am lucky to be living in Canada where well run dispensaries are not bothered by police and it will be legal in the whole country next July. Finally we are coming out of the dark ages.

    • Suzanne Marie Tucker

      Try an indica strain

    • Grow Your Own

      Just Try smoking different strains until you find the strain that works best for you. Also try asking the Bud tenders at your local Dispensary you may find some good advice there.

      • Paul

        Smoking is not always the answer; you can try Tinctures, Capsules, Salves, Eatables, etc. Go to your local dispensary and talk to the budtenders. You might need to try a few things out until you find something that works.

    • Paul

      There are many salves you can purchase from dispensaries that may help. I use one that is great for arthritis joint pain as well as muscle pain; although I don’t know specifically how it would help with Restless Legs; but you can get a small jar of salve and give it a try for around $20.

  • Simon Hardinsky

    I live in Virginia and most of us want some form of cannabis legalization here, especially for medicinal purposes. I am tired of the same old F.D.A. prescription pharmaceuticals that are legal that are laden with horrible side effects that never will touch the magic healing of cannabis. The Big Pharma industry cannot imagine their profits dwindling when patients will be able to grow their own medicine but the seat of the pharmaceutical industry which burdens this state with pernicious legislation tactics will just have to lump it sooner or later!

    • nixnoutz

      While Canada legalized Cannabis/Hemp. And pharmaceuticals are sold cheaper there. Mexico legalized medical and pharms cheaper there. Hire a veteran.

      • Simon Hardinsky

        In North America, pharmaceuticals are the only legal medication available for patients and if cannabis were legally available to patients the pharmaceutical industry would suffer immensely.
        I have attended conferences across America and at almost every meeting I have encountered the opposition to national legalization. Big Pharma has a great deal to lose in profits in this country if marijuana becomes legally available to all Americans. Again, it is so very hard to make a profit on something that can be cultivated at home.

        • CLK1

          WE Can only Pray that National Legalization happens soon, it is ridiculous to have this in this day and age… But in the mean time, 1 state at a time…!

        • Suzanne Marie Tucker

          Well that is their problem and should be more concerned with what the consumer wants

        • Daniel Gutierrez

          Isn’t it time that the less fortunate get some of the big deals like the Rich?… I Think so. If what you say happens, then they have to find other ways to get rich on.

  • The New York proposition for a Constitutional Convention was about far more than the “Possible” legalization of cannabis. To a greater degree a yes vote for a Constitutional Convention would have brought about the relaxing or elimination of laws governing the use of the Adirondacks wilderness area and opening up those 6.6 Million acres to private developers and corporations. If you want to see deforestation in the U.S just do a Google maps fly over of that area of NY; it’s devastating. A simple ballot initiative for 2018 is all that is needed to make weed totally legal in NY.

    • Ivana Schtupp

      This^^^ This proposition was backed by far right plutocrats who want to kill the Constitution–take away our rights and everything remotely “socialist.” The solution is amendments and ballot initiatives.

  • Michael

    I love living in NYS, but why the hell is the state so anti-pot? This state needs much more in the way of educating people here not only about marijuana’s medical benefits (which the state sorely needs to broaden), but also how much the state is losing via sales tax revenue by allowing other states to rake in the profits. And now with last night;s democratic win in New Jersey’s race for Governor, our elected officials truly need to start leading the way for pot legalization or we will be the state literally left outside as we watch surrounding states embrace pot for all its benefits, both monetary and otherwise.

  • papaouiee

    I live in New Mexico and have been a medical prisoner in my home for over three years due to a doctor illegally throwing me out of his office and taking away from me heavy narcotic medication claiming I violated a pain contract with him (never even had a lain contract with him). Since then I have been left here in my home to rot and die by the states of New Mexico, New York and the federal government. Not a one has lifted a finger. My injuries are out of New York and fall under workers comp who has done nothing but lie, break the law, violate about every right I supposedly have in the area of law, morality and common decency and who owe me over $300,000.00 in back comp payments; not counting the medical care they have denied me since I got hurt back in 1988.
    I am in so much pain that I cannot get up and down the stairs to get in and out of my home, get in the tub to clean myself or brush my teeth. Finally a few months ago a doctor suggested that medical marijuana might help so we went through the months of processing to get me the card. I finally got it in the end of August of this year. Comp, as of yet, won’t pay for, even though they are responsible for my medical but what else is new with them. I have been using it now for two months and everyone has commented (even my ex wife who can’t stand the fact that I have the card) who much more relaxed and peaceful I am. I have been trying to strengthen my legs so I can have my life back that comp stole from me almost 30 years ago. If I can afford to keep myself in this medication, it will certainly at the very least improve my life tremendously, even if I can’t get back on my feet by giving pain relief, mental relief and feeling better every day.
    It has also helped many other problems I have; the most is diabetes. This stuff should come with a warning to diabetics since it works to cut back insulin usage too. I was up to 60 units of Novalin N and 45-50 units of Novalin R when I ate. Now I am using 25-30 units of N and 20-25 units of R; a 50+% decrease in insulin usage…..WOW! I’m sorry but it’s about time the government got over it’s tantrum from back in the prohibition days and repealed their banning of pot as a retaliation against the people for being forced to bring back booze.

  • Debbie McNally

    Thank you I will look there.

  • Etidorhpa

    I’ll need the marijuana to cope watching the country go down the toilet due to the liberal democrats.

  • Bill Bush

    I just read that Michigan’s ballot inititiative group, “Milegalize”; is nearing 400,000 signatures on the ballot proposal. They only need about 252,000 signatures. I believe the deadline for gathering signatures is November 22. Milegalize will enjoy the financial backing of the national group “The Marijuana Policy Project” in 2018.