Updated: Jan 25
by Woodland Crisfield
Voters backed various progressive ballot measures across the nation. (Photo: W. Crisfield.)
November 3rd came and went, and while the nation did not know who would win the presidency on election night, many Americans went to the polls to make their voices heard on a variety of key issues affecting their states.
Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota all voted to legalize recreational marijuana. This brought the national total to 15 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized the drug. The movement to legalize marijuana has come a long way since Colorado and Washington voted in favor of legalization in 2012. As elections have passed, many states have seen economic benefits that can come from legalization.
With Measure 110, Oregon fully decriminalized all recreational drugs, becoming the first state in the nation to do so. Under this initiative, Oregonians who are found to possess any recreational drug will be given a non-criminal violation akin to a traffic offense, as opposed to a misdemeanor. This measure will also funnel the tax revenue from drug sales to addiction recovery centers where people can seek assistance and be directed towards future treatment options.
Portland resident and host of The Humanist Report podcast Mike Figueredo was pleased with the news.
“I’m thrilled with this, and let me tell you that when we voted to legalize recreational marijuana back in 2014, it really took a lot of convincing. People in my own social circles were hesitant about this, and now that it has passed, it is extremely, extremely popular.”
In Colorado, Proposition 118 passed with almost 58% of the vote, giving residents 12 weeks of paid time off for childbirth or family emergencies. The program will be funded by insurance premiums equal to about 0.9% of a worker’s wages.
Finally, Floridians voted to pass Amendment 2 which will raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over a 6-year period. In 2015, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders championed this as an issue that would benefit most people no matter their political differences.
Kyle Kulinski, host of the Secular Talk podcast, summed up the progressive response to the ballot measures' success best: “It’s almost like 80%, maybe even 90% of the time you put something up for a direct vote, people are reasonable, and they pick the position that makes sense. God, I love a direct democracy.”