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.
“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.”
That could change if the results are positive in both Colorado and Washington State, which in 2012 became the first US states to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and in any state that legalizes on Tuesday, says John Hudak, a fellow at the Brookings Institute and an expert on marijuana policy.
As with all politics, Hudak explains, the race for 2016 will ultimately be won or lost at the local level. “Most of these ballots first gain steam in small communities before getting attention statewide and nationally,” he says. “That grass roots factor is what activists will look to harness for winning hearts and minds in 2016.” http://qz.com/291091/however-the-us-votes-on-marijuana-today-its-2016-that-really-matters/