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Residents in Alaska, Oregon, DC vote to legalize recreational marijuana

[JURIST] Voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC, voted Tuesday to legalize recreational marijuana. In Alaska Measure 2 [text], which passed with 52 percent of the vote [materials], legalized recreational marijuana use for adults over the age of 21, allowing adults to "possess, use, show, buy, transport, or grow set amounts of marijuana." The measure includes a ban on public use of marijuana and allows for adults to grow up to six marijuana plants, as long as they are not visible to the public without use of binoculars. It also allows adults to possess, transport, display, use, or purchase an ounce or less of marijuana. The provisions of Oregon Measure 91 [text, website], which passed with 54 percent of the vote [materials], are similar, but they allow adults to posses up to eight ounces of "usable marijuana" and up to four plants. Also the sale of recreational marijuana will be controlled by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission [official website]. Initiative 71 [text], passed in Washington, DC, was the most limited of them all, passing with roughly 64 percent of the vote [website]. It allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants with less than three of them flowering. Alaska and Oregon now bring the total of states that have legalized recreational marijuana to four. Amidst these rapid changes however, the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, Amendment 2 [text, website] was defeated, falling roughly 2 percent short of the required 60 percent [website] approval needed. Had this amendment been passed, Florida would have become the twenty-first state to legalize medicinal marijuana and the first southern state to do so.

The legal use and sale of marijuana [JURIST backgrounder] for both medical and recreational purposes has become a major political issue in the US with a number of states contemplating various legalization initiatives. In September the Pennsylvania State Senate [official website] approved [JURIST Report] legislation that would legalize several forms of medical marijuana. In July Illinois Governor Pat Quinn [official website] signed [JURIST report] legislation [SB 2636, materials] that will allow adults and children suffering from seizures access to medical marijuana. In April the Maryland House of Representatives [official website] passed a bill [JURIST report] that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

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