Learning from the results

Tuesday was definitely a great day for drug policy reform. With cannabis outperforming most of the candidates, it may even start to sink in with more politicians that opposing drug policy reform is bad politics and not worth the “contributions” from prohibition interest groups.

Conventional wisdom was that reform was unlikely to be successful at a mid-term election (and that was true relatively recently). That’s because the historical population that supported reform also tended to be less politically engaged (young people, etc.) and turnout is lower at the mid-terms.

Yet it’s clear that reform has gone mainstream.

With that shift, it was interesting to see the new dynamic of the voter on marijuana ballots, and this useful page of exit polls from CNN provides some illumination.

Oregon Ballot Measure Results (click on Exit Polls)

So where were the votes for marijuana in Oregon?

Overall, men and women were roughly the same. Young people were slightly more likely to vote for the measure. Educated people were more likely to vote Yes. Urban did better than rural. Poor people were slightly more likely to vote for the measure than rich people, but the differences were minor.

So I started to look at where the numbers get radical…

  • Only 20% of those who self-identified as Republican voted Yes, compared to 77% of Democrats.
  • Only 20% of those who are enthusiastic/satisfied with GOP leadership voted Yes, and only 35% of those who are angry at the Obama Administration voted Yes (as opposed to those merely dissatisfied with Obama, who voted Yes at 51%)
  • 33% of those who attend religious services weekly voted yes, compared to 57% of those who attend occasionally and 72% of those who attend never
  • 26% of those who think that same-sex marriages should not be legal voted Yes, compared to 75% of those who think it should be legal

Now, what’s true in Oregon may not be true elsewhere, but this does remind us that there is still a strong core of social-religious conservatives who see marijuana/drugs as a key element in their culture war. These aren’t the Rand Paul Republicans, but they do make up a good portion of the Republican constituency.

In Florida, for medical marijuana, and in Alaska for legalization, many of the same factors showed up, but they were a little less extreme.

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31 Responses to Learning from the results

  1. DonDig says:

    Folks who think they know how everyone should live their lives are problematic.

    • DonDig says:

      I do think it is amazing though that the ‘whole’ country could be voting in Republicans at the same time they are voting in personal liberty and personal rights regarding cannabis. (They’re obviously not mutually exclusive conceptually, but still surprising somehow.)
      (I guess I should have more faith in the peeps.)

      Pete’s rundown on the data is very good, and not so surprising.

      Veeeery interesting.

  2. Randy says:

    And in other news, water is still wet.

    But seriously, one of the things I recognized during my journey from Christian believer to atheism was how religious teachings and dogmas tend to make its adherents moral authoritarians to some degree or another. Needless to say, that realization went into the negative column for god and religion.

    Pete, thanks for the analysis and report.

  3. claygooding says:

    Even the 2% loss in Fla was a win,,Tallahassee legislators are already making noises about legislating a MMJ bill as soon as they go back to work,,being (R) controlled it will resemble the NJ MMJ program I’m sure.

    But this also fired a shot across the bow of every state with an initiative option,,will those state’s legislators risk a ballot initiative or legislate a law and market they control completely?

    With budget demands and a dead economy the tax revenue in CO has become our most powerful argument and how long before even the most religious people I know get a different attitude when money is involved and they start asking politicians why we are not creating jobs instead of filling jail cells.

  4. NorCalNative says:

    …”Educated people were more likely to vote Yes”…

    I think that pretty much says it all.

    I’m curious if adherence to one of the Monotheistic traditions instills the prohibition mind-set or simply comforts it.

  5. Servetus says:

    The voting statistics expose the cultural conflict over marijuana, and that makes such numbers a useful reference for anyone facing drug charges who plans to select a jury and go to trial.

    Picking jurors who are non-religious—or “nones” who belong to no particular religion, followed by the religiously tolerant or religious left, make the best choices. Juries need the objectivity offered by secularism or humanism to function properly, and to nullify. Forty years ago, roughly 60-percent of the non-religious favored drug legalization, while that number appears to rise to 72-percent in the stats above.

    A drug defendant certainly wouldn’t want someone like Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R-MD) on their jury—the “R” stands for Roman Catholic in his case. Andy Harris vows to stop the implementation of the DC ballot measure legalizing marijuana.

    I sometimes wonder if Prohibition II is simply an act of revenge by Catholic prelates for the fact Prohibition I targeted alcohol and was enacted by Protestants. The drug conflict would be really petty if that were the case. But pettiness exists.

    Religious bigotry was a factor prior to Prohibition I, when Jewish distillers and German beer brewers were unable to get along with one another long enough to combine forces to stop passage of the Volstead Act. If drug use preferences are simply a matter of religiosity, then a drug defendant can rightly claim they are a victim of religious discrimination and persecution for being prosecuted for marijuana and other illicit drugs.

  6. dancapo says:

    The prohibitionists pulled off a late blitz of negative ads in Florida which I think cost us the election. They definitely turned all the rhetoric up to 11, and pulled out all the classic prohibitionist arguments. It still almost didn’t work…57% is nothing to cry about, but hopefully we will get there.

    My (slim) hope is that Rick Scott notices that pot did better than Charlie Crist so he owes his governorship in part to reformers.

    • Frank W. says:

      Yeah I saw that bit last night and it was funny, but the reality is too grim for a joke. To think of what he might have accomplished as president, and instead did not… It’s interesting to see if he’ll insert himself into the coming streetfight over legalized DC pot. Allying himself with the who Republicans who want to kill it? Sorry to say I wouldn’t put it past him.

  7. O.B.Server says:

    re: ” there is still a strong core of social-religious conservatives who see marijuana/drugs as a key element in their culture war”

    Very true. And this is why sporting long hair and tie-dye and shouting “Free the Weed!” and “Legalize It!” is probably not terribly convincing to religious conservatives. (Yes, I know: aging conservatives should get over the long-hair thing from the 60’s. But many of them haven’t.)

    On the other hand, pointing out that cannabis is an ingredient of the anointing oil of the old testament sends them into cognitive dissonance – and gives us an opening.

    And harping on the very thing which pot prohibitionists like to deny and minimize – arresting and jailing people for pot – as a particularly un-christian act, seems to work too.

    This is why prohibitionists like Sabet and the DEA/ONDCP propaganda crew minimize and attempt to deny people are jailed for pot. They know many religious people would balk if they realized how pot is used to game the system, used to imprison and enslave (UNICOR etc) men; and not even mentioning homosexual prison rape – which US prisons encourage. All that depends on keeping US religious conservative christians duped as to the actual workings of marijuana prohibition, so they keep voting to keep jailing people for pot. Hence Sabet’s and the DEA’s BS claims that there are virtually no federal prisoners in prison for a single-charge marijuana possession in small amounts.

    Only the most hard core drug warriors embrace prison for potheads: another point of division among go-along-to-get-along -type religious prohibitionists, which is the majority I think. Most prohibitionists (not all) fall into the go-along-to-get-along category. They’re not terribly committed, and can often be persuaded with reason.

    On the other other hand, every year sees more religious conservative die-hard prohibitionists take their propaganda-inspired anti-pot-head beliefs with them, to their eternal reward. (And they stop voting to jail potheads, here on earth.) So time is on our side in this sense.

    • primus says:

      Time is on YOUR side, young’un. I am in my early 60’s and would love to breathe free air. As it is, here in Canuckistan, Harper the Proroguer is totally against this tidal wave, resisting with all his might and main. Our only hope is that Justin Trudeau is a man of his word and legalizes after his election in 2015.

      • allan says:

        I love Doonesbury!

        And if not mistaken, obs is in Canuckistan.

      • Nunavut Tripper says:

        Yes Primus ,I think Justine has to come through with this election promise as the weed vote will be a big positive for him but I hope he can stand up to the lobbyists and banksters who will put a lot of pressure on him.
        I predict he will legalize but hobble everything with over regulation or “prohibition lite”.
        Even if he disappoints us if it’s perceived he won the election via the pro pot voters that will send a message to everyone that cannabis is here now and is here to stay.

  8. Tony Aroma says:

    If I understand correctly, the Oregon law doesn’t go into effect until July, 2015, MORE THAN 6 MONTHS from now. So you can still get busted between now and then? And they won’t even start taking applications for retail licenses until January, 2016. Sounds like they’re on the slow track to legalization.

    • free radical says:

      “…they’re on the slow track to legalization.”
      Yeah. So in other words, they’re moving infinitely faster than 92% of states. Pretty good, I’d say.

      I would also posit that the effect on arrests will be immediate. Don’t quote me, but I’m guessing rates of arrests, prosecutions, jailings, seizures, and illegal searches will be down in Or.

      • CarolDuhart2 says:

        Probably few or none. A lot of court cases , depending on the speed of the docket, take you past the end of prohibition. Unless the penalty is a fine, there’s no point in prosecuting low-level cases. Unless it can be bumped up to federal, there’s no point in making arrests for possession, just about none for growing and distribution. So unless you are a large, large, target-no arrests are likely. And any pending will probably be dropped.

      • Tony Aroma says:

        I hope you’re right. But I don’t think that’s going to be the case across the board. Take a look at this:

        Prosecutors say they’ll evaluate pot possession cases in light of Measure 91 vote

        People caught with marijuana between now and July 1, 2015 in Washington County may still find themselves in trouble. “It’s still against the law,” McKey said. “We have an obligation to enforce the law.”

        I hope this guy’s not in the majority.

    • allan says:

      Legal marijuana in Oregon: Prosecutors say they’ll evaluate pot possession cases in light of Measure 91 vote

      Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington county district attorneys say they’ll revisit pending marijuana cases, including violation-level possession offenses, in light of Measure 91’s passage this week.


      Bracken McKey, a senior deputy district attorney in Washington County, said his office has about 100 pending marijuana cases. They include violations, misdemeanors and felonies for marijuana possession. Many of them include additional non-marijuana charges, he said. Those prosecutions are likely to go forward, he said.

      “We are not going to grant amnesty to these individuals,” he said. “First of all, it’s still going to be against the law for close to another year.”


      Washington Co is where my daughter got married and they discovered my secret compartment of hidden marihuana… (a ziploc baggie)(I thought for sure that would have them fooled)

  9. DdC says:

    With a 39% turn out and DNC sabotage the prohibitionists extra Addlebrain money probably didn’t change much. Those voting against, already did. When Wasserman Schultz nixed Prop 2, she lost it for Crist and the 60% majority needed to change the state constitution. Unions get dues from workers making drug war paraphernalia. The blue dog dems were already prohibitionists along with the cathoholics. The working blue collar who might have voted yes, followed the party lead. Those who showed up to vote.

    Concluding the DNC are as much Neocons as the RNC. The GOP divided 3 ways may have a harder time trying to wreck the DC vote, but they must try, must. Fer the kids message. Obama should be fed up enough to just say to hell with them all and remove it as a controlled substance out of spite. Even if it would be the right thing to do.

    I’d say the democrats lost the Senate more than I would say the republicans won. Even with $4 billion spent on this election. Although that is more of an investment. I’d like to track where it was spent. If it all goes to corporations owned by the donors. More an election business tactic than voting in representatives. The Neocongress of the USAl Qaeda!

    Why Democrats Are Reportedly Turning Their Backs on Debbie Wasserman Schultz

    Ordinarily this would seem like a good thing if not for the fact the law putting these citizens into for profit prisons is a sham.

    Why Last Night Was Not Just Huge For Pot, But The Entire Criminal Justice System via @thinkprogress

    Based on falsehoods and omissions. Saving a few you threw overboard may be a lesser evil at best. Still moronic and it’s only saving grace may be by making it so damn obvious the people will wake up and get it. The system isn’t broken, it was designed that way. If you profit on misery the last thing you want is Peace.

    Incumbent Harris leads attorney general race. Another Krat Prohibitionist all the little peoppets happy dance rather than the mean ole GOPers. Their legacy will be that they fought to keep little girls having 300 seizures instead of 2 or 3. They lie and cajole to win support to keep tossing parents into prison for growing affordable healthcare. They lie in court to fill another cage and the judge commends them for their sacrifice knowing they are normally honest people. What a crock. Gag rules and MM’s, 3 strikes and a Just Us system that should be listed on the Dow Jones.

    The State’s Mystery Men Swoop In:
    Cops Answering to CA’s Attorney General are the Marijuana-Eradicating Agents in Mendocino

    California Raids Destroy Sick Kids’ MMJ Supply

    The Sheople Have Schpoken!

  10. Marijuana milestone

    “Almost half of American states have taken steps to legalise cannabis. The federal government should follow”

    From the Economist – print edition

    “The federal government and Congress should face up to the reality that across swathes of America, pot is now all but legal—and voters want it that way. They should redirect their efforts to making it as well-regulated as booze and cigarettes.”

  11. New Gallop:

    Majority Continues to Support Pot Legalization in U.S.

  12. No buds no crime says:

    Growing Cannabis in Austria is totally legal as long as it doesn’t flower:


    • claygooding says:

      If that was the case I would be making cannabutter,extracts and voporizing,,,I would miss the buds but I could get used to it.

  13. MJ Verite says:

    There is a strain of authoritarian thought that runs long and deep through American history. Not surprisingly, it has found itself welcome in many if not most religious traditions. I think it’s difficult to know which came first, though I think it’s fair to say that ecclesiastical traditions give “aid and comfort” to authoritarianism in general.

    For authoritarianism to succeed in the religious or political realm, it must control what thought itself is permitted. You’ll find an interesting post at http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/03/10/marijuana-and-divergent-thinki/

    September 11th brought a resurgence of authoritarianism, which remains in full bloom. Divergent thought and action represents an existential threat to the authoritarian psyche, and is put down either with threats of, or even actual violence. For more, see this excellent post by sosadmin: http://privacysos.org/node/1253

    Cannabis facilitates divergent thought, which is likely why it was placed atop the controlled substances chart, along with other divergent threats, psilocybin and LSD.

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