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2015 Election Day Wins for Marijuana Reform

leaf image for opt-inAlthough the defeat of Issue 3 in Ohio is making the most headlines there were some significant political victories for marijuana on Election Day.

Voters in Portage, Michigan passed a decriminalization law. In Keego Harbor, Michigan simple possession and non-remunerative transfer of one ounce of marijuana was effectively legalized. Thereare now 15 cities in Michigan that have decriminalized or made marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority.

Across the country reform proved to be a real asset for politicians at the polls.

In Philadelphia Jim Kenney, a Democrat who championed marijuana decriminalization last year, swept the election to become the city’s next mayor. Kenney’s campaign consistently touted his work on decrim and local political observers say it helped propel him into office. Kenney has also hinted at reducing fines even lower than the current $25.

Also in Pennsylvania, the Democrats gained three seats on the state Supreme Court. David Wecht won one of those seats; he’s the son of famous forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, who’s been a longtime and vocal supporter of marijuana reform.

Matt Bevin, a Republican in Kentucky, won the race for governor. Bevin made headlines when he supported medical marijuana and his Democratic opponent did not.

In New Jersey, there was a real shakeup. Longtime prohibitionist Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini of Monmouth County was unseated by a local Democrat in a surprise outcome. A staunch opponent of medical cannabis and legalization, Angelini runs a state-funded referral service for drug treatment centers. NJ Democrats won their biggest majority in the Assembly in recent years. A group called New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform is pushing the legislature to legalize marijuana as soon as Gov. Chris Christie leaves office.

Colorado voters had the option of taking a tax refund from surpluses collected on recreational marijuana sales. Proposition BB allowed the state to keep $66 million. If it had been defeated the bulk of the refund would’ve gone back to marijuana growers, not taxpayers.

According to the Denver Post:

The measure sends the first $40 million to school construction and $12 million designated for youth and substance-abuse programs. The remaining $14.1 million goes to discretionary accounts controlled by lawmakers.

Yesterday, more than one million voters in Ohio casted their ballots for Issue 3. But it was ultimately defeated by a 2 to 1 margin.

Ballot initiatives with different formats are expected during the 2016 general election in Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, California and Massachusetts.