Pubdate: Wed, 5 Nov 2008
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Daniel Nasaw, in Washington
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Regulation)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Voters in Massachusetts and Michigan approved measures to slacken 
marijuana laws, while voters in other states were to decide questions 
on abortion and gay rights.

Michigan became the 13th state to legalise marijuana for medical use, 
while Massachusetts decriminalised possession of one ounce or less of 
the substance, making the offence punishable with a citation and a $100 fine.

"Tonight's results represent a sea change," said Rob Kampia, 
executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which backed the 
Massachusetts and Michigan ballot proposals. "Voters have 
spectacularly rejected eight years of the most intense government war 
on marijuana since the days of 'Reefer Madness'."

Other hot-button social issues were on state ballots today.

In South Dakota, voters faced a ballot proposition that would have 
outlawed abortion except in cases of rape, incest and serious health 
threat to the mother. If it passes, the law will likely provoked a 
constitutional challenge, setting up an epic fight in the US supreme 
court over a woman's right to choose abortion.

In 2006 South Dakotans rejected a stricter abortion ban that did not 
include the exceptions for rape and incest.

Colorado also has an abortion-related question on the ballot. Voters 
today decide on a constitutional amendment that would define human 
life as beginning at conception. It doesn't mention abortion, but 
would force legislators and courts to confront which legal rights to 
extend to foetuses - and whether the amendment effectively bans 
abortion. Recent polling projected a wide defeat for the proposal.

Californians today voted on a constitutional amendment to ban gay 
marriage. Late polls showed a tight race. The California state 
supreme court in May forced the state to allow gays to marry, but 
Christian conservatives launched a successful campaign to put a 
proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. The state allows gay 
civil unions, but social conservatives worry that gay marriage in 
California will set a trend that will spread nationwide. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake