Election 2014: Mixed results on GMO labeling, cannabis initiatives
2014 was seen as a year of significant opportunity for various liberty friendly ballot initiatives with major battle lines drawn for the issues of GMO labels and the legality of cannabis. Hopes for success remained high for the variety of initiatives despite early news that GMO labeling was voted against in Colorado.
Oregon was in focus on both of these issues. On the issue of labeling genetically modified foods, the vote tally is too close to call.
As of 2 a.m. Wednesday, with nearly 80 percent of votes counted, the measure trailed 49 percent to 51 percent. But most of the votes yet to be counted were in Multnomah County, where about 61 percent of voters favor labeling.
GMO labeling picked up early support in relatively urban counties such as Multnomah, Lane, Benton and Jackson. Voters throughout much of rural Oregon opposed the initiative. Washington and Clackamas counties also were leaning against labeling.
"Yes on 92" campaign doesn't expect final results in this close race until Friday. #ORElection
— Keely Chalmers (@KeelyChalmers) November 5, 2014
Oregon voters also considered the legalization of cannabis after the neigboring states of Washington and Colorado have seen overall success. The very cannabis-friendly state has decisively voted in favor of the measure.
Oregon’s Measure 91, also known as the Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act, combines elements of Colorado’s Amendment 64 and Washington’s I-502. Like both of those initiatives, it allows adults 21 or older to purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time. Like Amendment 64, it allows nonprofit transfers of up to an ounce. That provision protects people from arrest for sharing pot, which otherwise can be treated as criminal distribution, even if it’s limited to passing a joint.
Measure 91’s decriminalization of marijuana use does not apply to consumption in any “public place,” defined as “a place to which the general public has access.” By comparison, Colorado prohibits “consumption that is conducted openly and publicly,” while Washington forbids consumption “in view of the general public,” both of which seem to cover less ground. Like Colorado (and unlike Washington), Oregon’s initiative allows home cultivation, but with stricter limits: up to four plants and eight ounces of usable marijuana per household, compared to six plants and whatever amount they produce per adult in Colorado.
The Oregon initiative takes a different approach to taxation than Colorado or Washington, both of which imposed levies based on a percentage of wholesale and retail prices. Oregon’s initiative instead would impose taxes on cannabusinesses based on weight: $35 per ounce of buds and $10 per ounce of leaves, plus $5 per immature plant.
Hawai’i has been the most tense battleground for the labeling (and/or ban) of GMO crops and associated environmental dangers. Maui County residents voted in favor of a ban on the growing of genetically modified organisms.
The first ballots to be counted show 58 percent of voters oppose the ban. But, by the third printout, there were 50 percent “yes” votes. It appears that the initiative has passed.
The measure applies only to Maui County, but it could have effects across the nation.
Nearby island Kaua’i County has been locked in a fierce legal battle over proposed laws that would restrict GMO crops and pesticide use. Biotech companies had sued the county to prevent implementation and won a temporary victory. Hawai’i County’s council also voted down a full GMO ban in what may be the opening stages of a longer battle.
A leader of the Shaka movement spoke to KITV following news of the victory. He shows in this video why he has been instrumental in organizing resistance and keeping spirits high on the island.
FIRST OFF NOTHING BUT JOY. NOTHING BUT PRAISE. FIRST OFF, WANT TO SAY MAHALO IF. TODAY I MENTION
WE VOTE TODAY CAN NOT VOTE FOR THEMSELVES.
TODAY WE VOTED FOR THE ABOUT CHILDREN AND TODAY WE VOTED FOR THE UNIVERSITY AND FUTURE GENERATION.
THEY WERE THE SILENT ONES. TODAY THE PEOPLE SPOKE. THE PEOPLE PEOPLE SPOKE. THE PEOPLE SPOKE.
WE CAME FROM ALL KIND OF CULTURES, ETHNICITY.. WE ALL BANDED TOGETHER. SO IT WAS TRULY GRASS ROOTS MOVEMENT.
THINK ABOUT IT. CLOSE TO 10 MILLION DOLLARS … AND WE POUNDED THEM. WE SAID ENOUGH ALREADY.
THIS IS THE BEGINNING. THE PEOPLE HAVE AWOKEN. YES.
WE HAVE AWAKENED A LOT OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS.
WE WILL DEFINITELY ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE. WE WILL BE THE CHANGE THAT WE WANT TO SEE ON OUR ISLANDS.
ALOHA TO BROTHER AND SISTERS…
WE ARE THERE TO HELP YOU IF COME FORWARD. WE ARE ALREADY IN DISCUSSIONS.
One of the most watched votes was in Florida where broad support for enabling medical marijuana was met with heavy lobbying efforts against the efforts. The proposal required 60% of the vote to pass and estimates show Florida citizens did not meet the increased threshold, failing by approximately 58 to 42 percent.
In the nation’s capital where the cannabis reform campaign has had significant success in recent months, residents of the District of Columbia have voted overwhelmingly in favor of cannabis legalization.
Preliminary results show that with all 143 precincts reporting, 64.6 percent of voters favored the initiative against 28.4 percent who opposed.
Initiative 71 would make it legal to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana and for D.C. residents to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes. The ballot measure does not set up a scheme by which marijuana could be bought and sold. Regulations and a taxation mechanism would likely be drafted by city officials — a process lawmakers have already begun.
This victory follows earlier successes for a medical marijuana program and decriminalization earlier this summer.
Residents of Alaska also voted to end the prohibition of cannabis in convincing fashion.
Alaska voters approved Measure 2, which legalizes the possession, use and sale of the drug for recreational use. Adults age 21 and older may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants (with no more than three being mature) for personal use. The measure also legalizes the manufacture, sale and possession of marijuana paraphernalia, such as devices used for smoking or storing the plant.
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Earlier this year, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R), an opponent of the measure, said he wasn’t “excited about the prospect” of legal marijuana, but also he said he would respect the will of the voters and implement the initiative if it were to pass.
Cannabis reform in Michigan has been slowed by uneven progress at the state level but local communities have furthered decriminalization efforts.
Eleven Michigan communities had marijuana proposals on the ballot Tuesday.
Unofficial results show the measures passing in Berkley, Huntington Woods, Mount Pleasant, Pleasant Ridge, Port Huron and Saginaw.
Voters defeated marijuana measures in Harrison and Lapeer, while results weren’t immediately available from Clare, Frankford and Onaway.
Voters in Hazel Park and Oak Park passed measures in August. Voters in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing approved decriminalization proposals last year.
The decriminalization measures put the communities in potential conflict with state law. Michigan bans marijuana use and possession unless it’s medical marijuana.
California voted to reduce the prison sentence on certain classes of crimes by reducing them to misdemeanors from felonies, lowering the maximum sentence. Among these crimes are those involving drug possession (not sale), giving a victory to activists against counterintuitive drug war problems.