Pubdate: Wed, 06 Nov 2002
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2002 Associated Press
Author: David Crary, AP National Writer
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project


In a sharp rebuff of the drug-reform movement, Nevada voters refused
Tuesday to make their state the first to legalize possession of
marijuana, and reform measures also failed in Ohio and Arizona.

Federal and state law enforcement officials teamed up to oppose the
Nevada measure, which would have legalized possession of up to 3
ounces of pot.

The Arizona proposal would have downgraded small-scale marijuana
possession to the equivalent of a traffic violation, while the Ohio
measure would have forced judges to order treatment instead of jail
for many drug offenders.

In Florida, voters approved a sweeping ban on smoking in restaurants
and virtually all other workplaces. "It's going to save lives," said
Martin Larsen, chairman of the Smoke-Free for Health campaign.

Smokers also were targeted in Arizona, where voters approved an
increase in cigarette taxes from 58 cents to $1.18 per pack.

In Tennessee and North Dakota, voters approved creation of a state
lottery. That is a milestone for Tennessee, which had joined Utah and
Hawaii as the only states without legalized gambling.

The results in Nevada, Arizona and Ohio were a blow for a national
alliance of drug reformers, who vowed to keep up their fight in future

"For the first time, we were up against the full weight of the federal
government," said Bruce Mirkin, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy
Project. "I never for a moment believed this was going to be easy."

In recent elections, voters in several states had approved use of
marijuana for medical purposes, and treatment-instead-of-jail
proposals were approved in Arizona in 1996 and California two years
ago. But in Ohio, Gov. Robert Taft and most of the criminal justice
establishment campaigned vigorously against the proposal.

In Nevada, authorities warned that legalizing pot could wreak havoc,
and some voters agreed.

"It would be a mess," said Peaches Johnson of Las Vegas. "It's
permission to get high."

In South Dakota, voters heeded the urgings of politicians and judges,
and defeated a proposal - backed by drug reformers and others - that
would have allowed defendants to tell juries they could disregard a
law if they don't like it.

In Massachusetts, voters agreed to eliminate bilingual education and
replace it with a one-year English-immersion program. However,
Colorado voters defeated a virtually identical proposal.

Both measures had financial backing from wealthy California
entrepreneur Ron Unz, who contends that bilingual education traps
foreign-born students in classrooms where they master neither their
native language nor English.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Jeb Bush won re-election but suffered a
defeat elsewhere on the ballot as voters approved an initiative backed
by many Democrats that would limit class size in public schools. Bush
said the limits - ranging from 18 in the lowest grades to 25 in high
school - would force an unaffordable increase in school spending.

On the financial front, elected officials in Arkansas and
Massachusetts were relieved by the defeat of proposals to eliminate
major taxes. The Arkansas measure would have abolished the sales tax
on food and medicine; the initiative in Massachusetts would have
repealed the state income tax, drying up a $9 billion funding source.

Warned of drastically higher taxes, voters in Oregon rejected a
proposal to create the nation's first comprehensive health care plan.
The estimated price tag was to give every citizen full medical
insurance was $19 billion a year.

Oregon voters also rejected a proposal to make their state the first
in the nation to require labels on genetically modified foods.

Among many measures on local ballots were the proposed secession of
the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood from Los Angeles. Voters
rejected the breakaway bids by wide margins, keeping their city the
nation's second largest.

In other results:

Colorado and New Mexico voters rejected a proposed state holiday in
honor of labor leader Cesar Chavez.

California and Colorado voters defeated proposals to allow voter
registration on Election Day.

North Dakotans defeated a proposed package of financial incentives
aimed at encouraging young adults to stay in the state.

Oklahomans voted to ban cockfighting. The state had been one of three,
along with Louisiana and New Mexico, that still allowed it.

Arkansas voters rejected a proposal to make certain acts of animal
cruelty a felony. Opponents of the measure warned that farmers,
hunters and fishermen could face unwarranted accusations of cruelty.

Californians approved a proposal sponsored by actor Arnold
Schwarzenegger's proposal to earmark a half-billion dollars annually
for after-school programs. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake