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Inside Criminal Justice

Elections 2012

Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana

November 7, 2012 09:15:16 am
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Photo by eggrole, via Flickr

Smoking marijuana for recreational purposes will be legal in Colorado and Washington, following passage of history-making state ballot initiatives last night.

The two states were among six where referendums on marijuana use were on the ballot. 

Under the measures in Colorado and Washington, those 21 years of age and older will be allowed to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana. Colorado’s Amendment 64 passed with 54 percent of the vote, and Washington’s Initiative 502 garnered 55 percent.

However, a similar ballot measure in Oregon was rejected, with 55 percent voting against.

Ballots in three states — Massachusetts, Arkansas and Montana — included referendums on medical marijuana. Voters approved the initiatives in Massachusetts and Montana, but Arkansas’ Issue 5 was defeated.

The marijuana votes raise the possibility of a clash with federal statutes criminalizing narcotics trafficking, including marijuana. President Barack Obama's administration has continued federal policies of raiding large-scale marijuana growing operations even in states where pot can be legally used for medical reasons.

Voters in 17 states were asked to weigh criminal-justice related measures yesterday----a striking contrast to a national election in which criminal justice was rarely mentioned.

The initiatives are listed below. To track the results on our interactive map, please see HERE.


Voters in Montana are considering LR-120, an act that would require “parental notification prior to abortion for a minor” at least 48 hours prior to the procedures. Exemptions include in the case of a medical emergency and if a parent or guardian has previously waived that right. LR-120 stipulates that any doctor who performs an abortion in violation of the act would be subject to criminal prosecution and civil liability.

Read the full text of LR-120 HERE.

Animal Cruelty

North Dakota’s Measure 5 would make it a felony to maliciously harm a dog, cat or horse, with exceptions for specific agriculture, hunting and scientific reasons. In addition to imprisonment, Measure 5 calls for mandatory psychological counseling for those convicted of animal cruelty, as well as five year ban from owning dogs, cats and horses.

Read the full text of Measure 5 HERE.

Assisted Suicide

In Massachusetts, voters are considering Question 2, which if passed would allow physicians to provide end-of-life medications to certain terminally ill patients.

Read the full text of Question 2 HERE.

Death Penalty

California’s Proposition 34 would repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Abolition of the death penalty would apply retroactively to those currently on Death Row.

Read the full text of Proposition 34 HERE.

Human Trafficking/Sex Offenses

California’s Proposition 35 would increase prison sentences and fines for human trafficking convictions, as well as require convicted human traffickers to register as sex offenders. Registered sex offenders would also be required to disclose Internet activities and identities.

Read the full text of Proposition 35 HERE.


In Arizona and Florida, voters are considering measures that would alter the structure of their judicial systems.

In Arizona, Proposition 115 would increase the governor’s options in choosing judges for the state Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Superior Courts of Pima and Maricopa Counties. Currently, the governor of Arizona chooses from three finalists selected by a screening panel when choosing potential judges. This Proposition would allow for eight finalists.

Florida’s Amendment 5 would abolish the state’s Supreme Court and replace it with Supreme Civil and Criminal Appeals courts.

Read the full text of Proposition 115 HERE.

Read the full text of Amendment 5 HERE.

Law Enforcement

Measures up for vote in Missouri and West Virginia would change the way police departments are run in those states. In Missouri, Proposition A would require that all municipal police forces be controlled by a local governing body. West Virginia’s Amendment 1 would abolish term limits for county sheriffs.

Read the full text of Proposition A HERE.

Read the full text of Amendment 1 HERE.


Voters in six states are considering ballot measures concerning the use and sale of marijuana. Colorado’s Amendment 64, Washington’s Initiative 502 and Oregon’s Measure 80 would all legalize the use and sale marijuana, with certain regulations. Arkansas’ Issue 5 and Massachusetts’ Question 3 would legalize the use of medical marijuana. In Montana, IR-124 would strengthen regulations on the state’s medical marijuana industry.

Read the full text of Amendment 64 HERE.

Read the full text of Intiative 502 HERE.

Read the full text of Measure 80 HERE.

Read the full text of Issue 5 HERE.

Read the full text of Question 3 HERE.

Read the full text of IR-124 HERE.

Official Misconduct

Voters in Louisiana, Maryland and Nebraska are considering amendments and questions concerning repercussions for public officials convicted of crimes.

Louisiana’s Amendment 5 would allow the state’s legislature to deny retirement benefits convicted of a felony related to his or her office. Maryland’s Question 3 specifies conditions in which elected officials convicted of felonies can be removed from office.

Nebraska’s Amendment 1 would make any judgment of a misdemeanor committed in pursuit of office grounds for subsequent removal from office.

Read the full text of Amendment 5 HERE.

Read the full text of Question 3 HERE.

Read the full text of Amendment 1 HERE.


In Oklahoma and Idaho, voters are considering measures that would change the administration of parole in their states. In Oklahoma, State Question 762 would abolish the state governor’s role in the parole process for certain non-violent crimes.

Idahoans are considering SJR 102, which would grant the State Board of Correction control over the management of felony probation and parole.

Read the full text of State Question 762 HERE.

Read the full text of SJR 102 HERE.

Three Strikes

California’s Proposition 36 would implement several changes to the state’s “Three Strikes” policy. The proposition mandates that life sentences only be given when a new felony conviction is "serious or violent;" authorizes re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if their third strike conviction was not serious or violent and if the judge determines that the re-sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.

The proposition maintains the life sentence without parole penalty for felons with non-serious, non-violent third strikes if prior convictions were for rape, murder, or child molestation.

Read the full text of Proposition 36 HERE.

Victims’ Rights

Proposition 114 in Arizona would prohibit crime victims from being subject to a claims for damages for causing death or injury.

Read the full text of Proposition 114 HERE.

Graham Kates is deputy editor of The Crime Report. We welcome comments from readers.

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