Midterm elections are coming up fast, and voters have a lot to think about this year. Between the fight to gain control of Congress, several gubernatorial elections, and a number of social issues, this election promises to be more than influential. And, notably, the 2014 midterm election will address the legalization of marijuana in three major locations: Washington, DC, Alaska, and Oregon. Dubbed "The Marijuana Midterms," if voters in these regions choose to pass the bills, their states will become the third and fourth states (and first federal district, in Washington D.C.'s case) to take major steps in decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana, following in Colorado and Washington states' footsteps.
The three bills, while relatively similar, have certain stipulations and nuances regarding issues like taxes, home growing, selling, fines, and more that make them distinct. Whether you support recreational marijuana or not, it is important for you to understand what these bills mean, especially if you plan on voting in these regions.
I know, it sounds like a lot of time-consuming research. Thankfully, we did the research for you. Here is a breakdown of what each bill is proposing, and how the bills are similar or different to bills previously passed in Colorado and Washington state.
The Legislation: Oregon's Ballot Measure 91 also seeks to legalize marijuana.
What Will Happen If It Passes?: The bill calls for the already established medical marijuana regulatory system to be expanding for recreational sale with a tax of $35 per ounce. Home growing would be legal, allowing households to have up to four plants. Non-commercial transfer will also be legal. The Liquor Control Commission will be saddled with the responsibility of establishing and enforcing regulations.
But Wait — There's More: The bill also calls for a research effort to help understand the effects of marijuana use on motorists, the findings of which will then be incorporated into a formal DUI law, but that wouldn't begin until 2017.
The Legislation: Because it isn't a state, the nation's capitol isn't quite willing or able to legalize yet, but the likely passage of Initiative 71 will fully decriminalize marijuana.
What Will Happen If It Passes?: Possessing small amounts of marijuana is already only a ticket-able offense in D.C., but this initiative would make small possession and non-commercial transfer fully legal. It won't develop a commercial market or establish a tax, but this may be as close as it will get to legalization until if/when a federal law is passed.
Ready to vote? You can figure out if you're registered, where your polling place is, what kind of ID your state requires for voting, and what candidates are up for election in your area here.