Voters in six states will consider measures that deal with the recreational or medical use of marijuana on Tuesday. In Colorado, Oregon and Washington state, voters will decide whether their states will become the first to allow recreational use of the drug.
“The attitudes about marijuana have changed sufficiently to make the issue of legalization politically viable and these initiatives are one way to measure that change,” Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which advocates legalizing marijuana, told Bloomberg Businessweek.
Voters in Massachusetts and Arkansas will consider legalizing marijuana for medical use, while in Montana, voters will decide whether to accept or reject a law passed last year that curtailed a 2004 measure legalizing medical marijuana.
According to St. Pierre, the measures in Washington state and Massachusetts are the most likely to be passed. He added a recent poll showed the Washington initiative has a 55 percent approval rating among likely voters, with 38 percent opposed.
A Justice Department official recently said the federal government will not change its position on the legalization of marijuana, even if voters in Colorado, Washington state or Oregon approve measures to legalize recreational use of the drug.
In September, nine former administrators of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wrote a letter to Holder, urging him to oppose the three state measures. The letter stated that not opposing the measures would indicate acceptance. The former DEA officials said if the measures in Colorado, Washington and Oregon are passed, they will pose a direct conflict with federal law.