There are three marijuana ballot initiatives in today’s midterm elections—in Alaska, Oregon and Washington DC—where voters will decide on outright legalization of recreational marijuana. In a fourth ballot, in Florida, voters will vote on a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution, which would legalize medical marijuana.
While passage of these ballots could potentially signal growing momentum for the pro-marijuana legalization movement nationally, marijuana advocates are looking to the 2016 general elections as a more accurate barometer of where they stand within the American cultural and political mainstream. The reason being is that more younger and minority voters—groups who polls show support marijuana legalization in higher numbers—vote during quadrennial general elections, while the electorate tends to be older and more conservative in the midterms.
At least five US states—Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada—will hold ballot initiatives in 2016. And the diverse political makeup of those states, from the conservative battleground of Arizona to the liberal hotbed of Massachusetts, means that success at the ballot box would show that legalization spans the political and ideological spectrum, says Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project.
“Whatever happens Tuesday, we don’t see a step backwards for the movement going into 2016,” Tvert tells Quartz. “Public opinion is on our side, it is only going in one direction, and that is toward an end to marijuana prohibition in this country.”…”