The Americans not only voted Tuesday to choose their new president and their representatives in the two legislative chambers, but there are other matters that the Americans have decided as well.
The discussion here is about what is known as “citizen initiatives”, which settled several important files for some states, such as legalizing cannabis, decriminalizing possession of drugs in small quantities, abortion, and so on. drug possession
What are citizen initiatives?
These initiatives are a means by which any citizen or organization can collect a predetermined number of signatures to put forward a procedure or bill for the ballot and vote on it in future elections, and it can be divided into constitutional amendments and legal initiatives.
What was voted and passed?
Despite the continued federal ban, voters moved to decriminalize drugs more broadly in the country.
Oregon became the first state to decriminalize possession of small quantities of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs. And in New Jersey and Arizona, voters decisively passed laws to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.
The Oregon measure would make possession of small quantities of what had long been considered a strong drug offense such as a traffic offense, for example, and would not be punished with imprisonment.
By law, spending on drug addiction treatment will come from marijuana sales tax.
However, possession of larger quantities is still considered a misdemeanor, and cases in which possession of quantities that reach a commercial level is proven may be considered a felony.
Also in Oregon, voters have approved the use of psilocybin, known as magic mushrooms, for people 21 and older, in a move that supporters say would allow the drug to be used to treat depression, anxiety, and other conditions.
Hemp is also now legal across several states in the West – from Washington to the Mexican border – and beyond.
Hemp has also been a hot topic for polls in Montana, Mississippi, and South Dakota.
If all measures related to marijuana are passed, its use for medical purposes will become legal in thirty states and its use for recreational purposes will be permitted in 15 states.
In Florida, which outgoing President Donald Trump won, voters approved an amendment to the constitution that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour in 2026.
This makes Florida the eighth state to enact a minimum wage of $ 15, and so has the District of Columbia.
The Florida bill – known as the amendment – obtained the right to vote on it during Tuesday’s elections, last December, when the vote on it exceeded 60%, which is the percentage required to pass it to vote in the elections.
Under the measure, the state’s minimum wage will increase from the current hourly wage of $ 8.56 to $ 10 in September, and then rise by $ 1 every September until 2026. After that, the annual increases will be related to inflation.
These increases will benefit some 2.5 million workers in the state.
In Louisiana, he comfortably passed a measure backed by two anti-abortion Democrats, Governor John Bel Edwards and Senator Katrina Jackson.
This procedure, known as Amendment 1, adds this phrase to the state constitution: “Nothing in this constitution should be construed as guaranteeing or protecting the right to abortion, or requiring funding for abortion.”
In Mississippi, voters have agreed to adopt a new state flag with red, yellow, and blue stripes, a magnolia, and the phrase “In God we trust.”
The state’s previous flag, which dates back to 1894 and depicts the Confederate Battle Cross, was withdrawn by lawmakers last June, as these flags are a symbol of racism for a large portion of Americans.
The low number of initiatives compared to previous elections
There were 38 citizen initiatives across the country on Tuesday, nearly half the number of previous presidential election initiatives, which recorded 72 initiatives.
Experts attribute this decline to the impact of the Coronavirus, which has made the task of collecting signatures more difficult.
In total, the total number of initiatives this year – including those that failed to reach the polling stage during the elections – was 124 initiatives nationwide, down from 154 initiatives four years ago.