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Late Mail-In Ballots Favor Medical Marijuana Turnaround in Arizona (Update: Or Possibly Not)

[Update: Prop 203's numbers have dropped back down again after further counting of late ballots.]

Drug policy reformers were all but reconciled late Tuesday night to a zero-out-of-four year for statewide marijuana initiatives. Along with a moral victory but electoral defeat for California's Proposition 19 legalization measure, medical marijuana initiatives lost decisively in South Dakota and Oregon, and a medical initiative in Arizona, Proposition 203, was down by the frustratingly slim margin of 50.3%-49.7%, with most precincts reporting. Prop 203's support rose to 49.74% later in the night when the remaining precincts were reported.

Lily Rose, cancer survivor and Prop 203 proponent
As an email from Prop 203's main funder, the Marijuana Policy Project, pointed out Wednesday afternoon, though precinct reports had been completed, 290,000 late mail-in ballots (mailed at the last minute or dropped off in their mail-in envelopes at the polls Tuesday) remained to be counted, as did 84,000 provisional ballots (accepted at the polls but with the voters' eligibility in question), according to a press release from the Arizona Secretary of State's office. MPP pointed out that a 52%-48% split in favor of Prop 203 among those late-counted ballots would make up the roughly 7,000 vote difference between the yes and no vote counts.

The question then for Prop 203 partisans was whether those late mail-in and provisional voters are representative of the state as a whole (e.g., the equivalent of a random sample of Arizona voters, in which case one would expect the same statewide split on the initiative), or whether they differ demographically from the state as a whole, in ways that affect that split. A late Thursday afternoon update on the Secretary of State's web site suggests good news for the measure on that front, with an improved 49.86% voting yes on 203, 65,718 additional votes having lowered the vote difference to 3,870. Assuming those votes were mail-ins or provisionals, not additional precinct reports, Prop 203 at that rate could reach 50.4% or even 50.5%.

Observers have speculated that Republican voters may have disproportionately voted early by mail, due to the higher level of motivation prevailing among conservatives this year. More Democrats, by contrast, may have put off voting but responded at the last minute, prompted by get-out-the-vote efforts or the deadline. If so, that would bode well for Prop 203 -- as well as for candidates favored by reformers, such as California Attorney General candidate Kamala Harris, slightly leading arch-opponent of medical marijuana Steve Cooley; or Washington State Rep. reelection candidate Roger Goodman, slightly behind Police Sgt. Kevin Haistings but also closing the gap.

Provisional Arizona voters have until Tuesday, November 9, to bring qualifying identification to their county election offices. Click here for further information of qualifying ID types, or call (602) 542-8683 or (877) THE-VOTE for further information, or (602) 255-8683 for TDD for the hearing impaired.

United States

Some Good News from New York

Some good news from New York: State Senator Eric Schneiderman, legislative leader of the partially successful effort to repeal the state's draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, has cruised to a solid victory in the race for New York Attorney General.

Andrew Cuomo, the Governor-Elect, was extremely active in the Rockefeller repeal campaign for several years, though he didn't do much if anything about it as AG, and during the campaign he opposed medical marijuana. Still, that doesn't mean he'll actively oppose it as governor, and having Cuomo and Schneiderman as governor and attorney general seems like it should be helpful.

United States

Insane Drug Warrior Wins Senate Seat

Well, Democrats have held the Senate, so enjoy being in the minority party, Sen. Kirk.

Medical Marijuna Industry Contributes Thousands to State Candidates

United States
In the first general election since the boom of the state's medical marijuana industry, cannabis supporters are making their voices heard the old-fashioned way: with money. Colorado medical marijuana business owners and advocates have made thousands of dollars in contributions to state candidates this year. Dispensary owners have teamed up to form a political action committee. And activists last month went so far as to host a fundraiser for attorney-general candidate Stan Garnett.
The Denver Post (CO)

Cuomo Opposes Medical Marijuana, Paladino Says Let the People Decide

New York Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that he opposes legislation to allow for the use of medical marijuana in the Empire State. Cuomo's remarks came in response to a question prompted by a statement by Republican nominee week Carl Paladino a week earlier that the subject should be put to a popular vote.

Cuomo as Attorney General
New York does not have a voter initiative process, but that didn't stop the Tea Party-supported Paladino from suggesting public referendums on a number of hot button issues, including gay marriage, enacting tougher immigration laws, and medical marijuana. "Let the people decide," Paladino said at a Taxpayer Party forum in Middletown when asked about medical marijuana.

The irascible arch-conservative Palodino, an upstart upstate candidate, trails badly in the polls. According to Real Clear Politics, in the average of all polls on the race, Paladino gets trounced 58% to 31%. The most recent poll, taken over the weekend, has Cuomo winning 60% to 37%.

But even that huge lead wasn't comfortable enough for Cuomo, who in past years lent strong support to the campaign to repeal New York's Rockefeller Drug Laws, to take a similarly progressive stance on medical marijuana. Nor is evident support for medical marijuana among key Cuomo constituencies enough to budge him. According to a March poll, 50% of New Yorkers supported medical marijuana. The figures were higher for liberals (72%), young voters (62%) and Democrats (55%).

When asked by reporters Sunday about medical marijuana, Cuomo said he opposed a medical marijuana bill that had passed the state Assembly. "I think the dangers outweigh the benefits," he said. "I understand the benefits. I understand that it's been tried in other places. I think the risks outweigh the benefits."

When asked about possible revenues from taxing medical marijuana, Cuomo refused to bite. "A lot of things could raise revenues," he said."Legalizing prostitution could raise revenues. I'm against that, too."

And speaking of prostitution, it's worth noting that Paladino isn't the only option for marijuana reformers. Former madam Kirsten Davis is running on a marijuana and prostitution legalization platform on the Anti-Prohibition Party ticket, though her support is too small to show up in the polls. In the Senate race, long-time drug reformer Randy Credico has emphasized anti-prohibitionist and other drug reform positions in his independent campaign taking on Chuck Schumer.

The positions taken by the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New York are yet another indication that good drug policy reform positions are the exclusive domain of neither major party.

(This article was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

United States

Pot and the GOP: Is the Party of ‘Just Say No’ Morphing Into the Party of ‘Just Say Grow’?

The Republican Party is a long way from becoming the Pot Party. Nonetheless, conservative attitudes are changing at the grassroots level. The percentage of Republicans in favor of legalizing marijuana has risen quickly since 2005, jumping 7 points. And as their constituents have moved on the issue, more Republican candidates and lawmakers are refusing to toe the party line.
Newsweek (NY)

Sensible Voter Guide: Marijuana on the Ballot in Colorado







 "Sensible" Voter Guide 

Which cities are voting to ban dispensaries? 

Which candidates support marijuana reform? 

Find out below!


Candidates Stance on Marijuana

See SAFER's candidate survey HERE.

Municipalities Voting on Marijuana Issues

Counties: Alamosa, Broomfield, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, Douglas, El Paso (Contact: 719 213 3993 or HERE), Eagle (Contact: EMBA, 970-569-3701), Las Animas, Mesa (Contact: 970 270 8394,, Moffat, Montrose, Otero, Park, and Washington.

Cities:   Aurora, Federal Heights, Jamestown, Broomfield,  Antonito, Sugar City, Paonia, Lone Tree, Castle Pines, Minturn, Elizabeth,  Ramah, Fountain, Granby, Fraser, Hot Sulphur Springs, Town of Lake City, Loveland, Windsor (Contact: 970-222-5555, ), De Beque, Dinosaur, Olathe, Hill Rose, La Junta, City of Ouray, Pueblo, Akron, and Otis. 

Other Issues

California is currently voting to regulate marijuana for adults over 21 statewide.  Learn about the campaign HERE.

In Colorado, Prop. 102 seeks to fill the jails with mid-level drug offenders, by denying them reasonable bond.  Learn more HERE.

Sensible Colorado | PO Box 18768 | Denver CO 80218

United States

Campaign Ad Attacks Rand Paul as Soft on Drugs

Kentucky Democratic US Senate hopeful Jack Conway and his allies continue to attack Republican hopeful Rand Paul for his dissent from drug war orthodoxy. The latest salvo came in an attack ad by Common Sense Ten, an independent "super-PAC" that supports Democratic candidates by attacking Republican ones.

While Common Sense Ten is not directly tied to the Conway campaign, its attack on Paul for his perceived "softness" on drugs echoes themes used by Conway and his campaign. (See our recent feature article on drug policy in the Kentucky Senate campaign here.)

"Here's Rand Paul," the narrator of the Common Sense Ten ad intones, then goes to a voiceover of Paul saying, "Things that are nonviolent shouldn't be against the law," while the words "Libertarian Philosophy" appear on the screen.

"Like other libertarians, he says drug laws are too harsh, and Rand Paul says drugs are not a quote pressing issue here in Kentucky," the narrator continues. "Not pressing? Drugs, especially meth are an epidemic in Kentucky. Lives, families, and whole communities are destroyed every day."

The ad then repeats the Paul quote on nonviolent offenses while the words "Ron Paul -- Wrong for Kentucky" appear on the screen.

While the ad waxes hyperbolic ("whole communities are destroyed every day") and metaphoric (meth is "an epidemic in Kentucky"), the numbers don't back up those claims. According to a recent report from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, drug use levels in Kentucky are in line with those in the rest of the country. The "epidemic," in other words, is a politically convenient figment of the collective imagination.

Democrat Jack Conway did not pay for the ad and his name does not appear on it. But it appears Conway and Common Sense Ten are all too happy to engage in regressive drug war politics if it will help them win the election. So far, though, it's not working: According to poll aggregator Real Clear Politics, Paul is leading Conway by an average of 46.0% to 41.7%.

(This article was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
United States

Opposing Marijuana Legalization Could Cost Jerry Brown the Governor's Race

Prop 19 gives California voters a choice between legalization and prohibition. The gubernatorial race, on the other hand, gives voters a choice between two cowards who pledge to continue waging war on their own constituents. Just watch Republican candidate Meg Whitman boasting about her drug war credentials:

What amazes me about this isn't that Meg Whitman is as much of a drug war idiot as she is. There's nothing surprising about that, but it's just tragic that her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown has chosen to join her in opposing Prop 19. By taking a stand against marijuana reform, Brown has offended an enormous cross-section of young liberal voters whose support he desperately needs in this close race.

If Brown genuinely has a problem with legalizing marijuana, that's one thing, but if he thinks he's scoring any political points with this position, he's out of his mind. As the above video shows, Whitman is accusing him of being "soft on crime" regardless of his anti-legalization stance. What more could she even say? Getting attacked by Whitman for supporting Prop 19 would actually help him. After all, marijuana legalization is doing better in the polls than either of these fools.

Update: On a related note, what's up with Meg Whitman claiming that "every single law enforcement official in this entire state is against Proposition 19"? If she's followed the debate at all, she should know that Prop 19 has received a mountain of endorsements from law enforcement. This has been widely reported in the press, so she's either lying or just not paying attention.

(This article was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

California Democrats Bet on Bong War

United States
Seizing on new independent polling data, proponents of Proposition 19 — the Golden State ballot measure that would make possessing and growing marijuana legal — argue the measure is going to drive younger-voter turnout in such a way that it will benefit the Democrats statewide, from gubernatorial retread Jerry Brown to Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Politico (VA)

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