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Midterm Reefer Referendums Win Big in Midwest, Conservative States

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Tuesday’s midterm elections were a mixed bag for both parties: Republicans failed to hold on to the House of Representatives, and Democrats couldn’t take the Senate. But there was one big winner in the midterms: marijuana.

“If you were worried that there wasn’t a political message yesterday that resonated or that could bring people of both parties together, I have some great news for you: marijuana law reform seems to be that message,” Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML), told Radio Sputnik’s Fault Lines.

NORML has “165 chapters at the state and local level across the country,” Altieri said. Marijuana was on the ballot in four states, and overall it did well, he suggested.

Michigan voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use, joining nine other states that have passed similar measures.

As witnessed during the close race in Michigan between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, the state “is pretty split, but marijuana — full legalization — won there with close to 60 percent approval last night,” Altieri said.

Missouri and Utah passed initiatives to allow the use of medical marijuana, joining 32 other states.

“Utah and Missouri, both places where Republicans won big in the Senate, medical marijuana won big at the ballot box as well,” Altieri said.

A recreational marijuana measure failed in North Dakota, however, the drug remains legal for medicinal use there.

“We won in a variety of states last night. The big one was obviously Michigan,” Altieri told Fault Lines hosts Garland Nixon and Eric Ladny, who filled in for Lee Stranahan.

“There were also a lot of local initiatives in Ohio, where a large number of cities decriminalized marijuana, and Wisconsin,” Altieri said.

In Wisconsin, voters supported every marijuana advisory referendum in all 16 counties. Majorities in 11 counties and one city voted in favor of a non-binding referendum to legalize marijuana for medical use, while majorities in six counties voted to fully legalize it.

“Politicians tend to lag behind the people a good deal when it comes to where they want to see public policy go and responding to the will of the people and where public opinion is. But what we saw last night was really the expansion of the playing field, moving into the Midwest, moving into more traditionally conservative states,” Altieri said.

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