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Legal Marijuana Comes to More States as Drugs Win Big on Ballots

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Five more states legalized marijuana on Tuesday, and voters made Oregon the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of street drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

The drug measures were among 120 proposed state laws and constitutional amendments that were on the ballot in 32 states.

The Oregon drug initiative will allow people arrested with small amounts of hard drugs to avoid going to trial by paying a $100 fine and attending an addiction recovery program.

“Today’s victory is a landmark declaration that the time has come to stop criminalizing people for drug use,” according to Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which backed the measure.

The proposal was endorsed by the Oregon Democratic Party, as well as some nurses and physician associations.

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The Oregon Republican Party had denounced the drug decriminalization measure, and some prosecutors called it reckless.

Oregon voters also approved a measure making the state the first to legalize the therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms.

Voters in New Jersey and Arizona approved measures legalizing marijuana for adults age 21 and older.

South Dakota on Tuesday became the first state where voters authorized both recreational marijuana and medical marijuana via two separate initiatives in the same election.

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The legalization of recreational marijuana was approved by voters in Montana, and medical marijuana won approval in Mississippi.

Two states considered pro-life amendments with different results.

Louisiana voters passed a measure stating that there is no state constitutional right to abortion.

In Colorado, by contrast, voters defeated a measure to prohibit abortions after 22 weeks unless the pregnant woman’s life is endangered. Previous Colorado ballot initiatives to limit abortion also failed in 2008, 2010 and 2014.

Several states considered measures affecting voting rights.

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Virginia voters passed a constitutional amendment taking power away from members of the Democratic-led Legislature to draw voting districts for themselves and members of Congress based on census results.

It instead will create a bipartisan commission of lawmakers and citizens to develop a redistricting plan that the Legislature could approve or reject, but not change.

Virginia is the sixth state in the past two general election cycles to pass measures intended to prevent gerrymandering — a process in which politicians draw voting districts to benefit themselves or their political parties.

Voters in Missouri, who passed a redistricting reform measure in 2018, decided Tuesday to roll back key parts of it before it could be used next year.

They passed a measure placed on the ballot by the Republican-led Legislature to repeal a model that would have used a nonpartisan demographer to draw state House and Senate districts to achieve “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness.” The measure instead returns those duties to bipartisan commissions.

In Florida, voters approved a measure gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.

Seven other states — California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — as well as Washington, D.C., already have enacted laws to boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

In Mississippi, voters approved a proposal for a new state flag with a magnolia design. The vote came after legislators in June ended the use of a flag bearing the Confederate emblem.

In Rhode Island, whose official name is “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” a proposal was leading to eliminate the final three words.

In California, Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing and delivery services prevailed in their expensive fight to keep drivers classified as independent contractors.

The ballot initiative pitted the powerhouses of the so-called gig economy, including DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart, against labor unions.

It was the most expensive California ballot measure ever — more than $220 million was spent, most by the gig companies.

The measure creates an exemption to a state law that would have made drivers eligible for benefits that come with being company employees. San Francisco-based Uber and Lyft had threatened to pull out of California if they lost.

Among the many California ballot proposals was one to repeal a 1996 initiative that prohibits preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, education or contracting. It was trailing in the polls.


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