President Obama has frequently played the change card in his speeches, even if he hasn't made good on all of his promises, often stymied by Congress. Well, when it comes to change there were a number of ballot initiatives yesterday, some passing, pointing to a serious shift from the status quo—and one that keeps in sadly the same.
Marijuana Legalized for Recreational & Medicinal UseVoters in Colorado passed Amendment 64, which legalizes recreational marijuana use by adults over the age of 21 and taxing it, with the funds raised used to pay for school construction. In Washington, Initiative 502 passed, legalizing pot smoking for adults over 21. Oregon failed to pass a ballot initiative which would have done the same thing. For medicinal use of marijuana, Massachusetts approved Question 3, allowing patients meeting specific medical criteria to buy pot at state-operated outlets; Montana voters passed a measure to uphold existing medical marijuana laws.
The big questions: How will this play out with the Justice Department, which seems to still believe ridiculous propaganda only slightly removed from the Reefer Madness era? And, what effect will this have on industrial hemp production?
In Montana, Corporations Are Not PeopleMontana has been asserting that existing state laws effectively limit political campaign funding by corporations who claim such contributions are free speech for some time—bucking Citizens United. Now, voters there have approved Initiative 166, which establishes a state policy that corporations are not human beings, and are not entitled to constitutional rights.
Longmont, Colorado Bans FrackingLongmont, Colorado (located northeast of Boulder, for those not up on their Colorado geography) has become the first city in the state to ban fracking, with 60% of voters approving the measure. Food and Water Watch says:
For more than six months Longmont and its citizens have been of threatened, bullied and out-spent by the oil and gas industry. Longmont’s victory over this highly industrialized and dangerous oil and gas extraction process signals to communities throughout the state and the nation that they can and will prevail over state officials who answer to the oil and gas industry rather than to their constituents.
Puerto Rico Says Yes to StatehoodAs long as Congress approves it, the United States will soon have 51 states. Voters in Puerto Rico have passed a referendum to change their status from being a territory to a full-fledged state. It's the fourth attempt in recent years to put the issue to the people of Puerto Rico. This time it passed, with nearly 54% voting for statehood.
Assuming Congress says yes—and no petition for admission as a state by a territory has been rejected to date—it means that Puerto Rico's representatives to Congress will actually be able to vote (they can't now), and residents of Puerto Rico will have to pay federal taxes.