Big Win

11.07.12

Potheads Rejoice! Marijuana Initiatives Pass in Two States

Federal government be damned, two states voted to legalize marijuana tonight. Winston Ross on why the puffers won in Colorado and Washington—and why they went up in smoke in Oregon.

Two outta three ain’t bad, man.

Provided the current results hold, marijuana users in Colorado and Washington will soon be legally allowed to puff, puff, and pass—though Oregon is on its way to bogarting a weed initiative there.

What made the difference? Madeline Martinez, a board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and owner of the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in Portland, told The Daily Beast Tuesday night that it’s money.

“We didn’t get any funding in the state of Oregon,” she said. “I’m not sure why, because I thought it was one of the better-written bills.”

By that, Martinez means big outside donors such as billionaire George Soros—who sunk millions into the Washington and Colorado campaigns—and the Drug Policy Alliance didn’t kick in to help with political advertising in the Beaver State. But she was still celebrating Tuesday night, as the first two states in America voted to defy federal law and legalize it.

That conflict has already played out in many of the 17 states that have passed medical-marijuana initiatives in the past two decades, with the federal government’s raids in the past two years of the pot dispensaries that have proliferated in states such as Colorado and California. What remains to be seen, though, is whether a reelected President Obama will choose to continue picking that battle with the states, especially with the two that opted for outright legalization.

Martinez, for one, is hoping Obama backs down.

“I believe he’s going to be a lot more liberal in his next term as a lame duck,” she said. “He’ll have a lot more leeway on his second term. I think he believes in civil rights as well, and we’ve seen how he’s moved on gay marriage.”