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Drug Testing News
measures go down in three states
Wed Nov 6, 6:14 AM ET
By MICHAEL LUO, AP National Writer
NEW YORK - Advocates hoping to soften Americans' attitudes
toward marijuana ran into vigorous opposition, spearheaded by
the White House, and drug reform ballot measures were voted
down in Nevada, Arizona and Ohio.
Wealthy backers who had succeeded with several past
initiatives to ease access to marijuana for medical uses
sought to go a step further and lessen penalties for its use
in general, and many voters apparently drew a distinction.
In all, there were 202 propositions placed on local ballots in
40 states on the national election day Tuesday.
In California, secession measures that would have split Los
Angeles into three entities — the city, Hollywood, and the San
Fernando Valley — were defeated.
Florida voters banned smoking in most indoor workplaces and
restaurants, making theirs the latest state to pass a smoking
ban. Four other states have passed similar bans.
Massachusetts residents voted to eliminate bilingual
education, but Colorado voters decided to keep it.
Tennessee amended its constitution to allow statewide
lotteries, leaving Hawaii and Utah as the only states without
any form of legalized gambling.
In the initiative hotbed of Oregon, voters rejected two hotly
contested measures, one that would require companies to label
genetically modified food and another to universalize health
care. The latter was expected to cost taxpayers $1.7 billion.
It was the pro-pot initiatives, however, that drew the most
attention this year.
Early polls had made advocates optimistic. The measures were
heavily financed by three billionaire philanthropists, George
Soros, John Sperling and Peter Lewis, who plotted the
campaigns as part of a broader effort to roll back the federal
war on drugs.
During the past six years, the three have financed successful
efforts to pass 17 of 19 state-level initiatives easing drug
laws. In the past, though, most of the measures dealt with
This time, voters in Nevada defeated a measure to legalize the
possession of up to 3 ounces (85 grams) of marijuana. In
Arizona, residents rejected an initiative that would have
likened marijuana possession to a traffic violation. Finally,
Ohio defeated a proposal that would have required judges to
order treatment instead of jail for certain offenders who
President George W. Bush (news - web sites)'s newly appointed
anti-drug chief, John Walters, and other opponents
characterize marijuana as a gateway drug that leads to
increased drug abuse by youths. Besides, they say, it causes
traffic accidents, domestic violence and health problems.
Advocates were surprised by the force with which the White
House fought them in this election.
"What we have seen tonight is how hard the drug war ideologues
are willing to fight and how dirty they're willing to fight,"
said Bruce Merken, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy
Project, one of the groups that coordinated the campaigns.
Advocates found some solace in the passage of two city-wide
marijuana measures. In San Francisco, officials were
authorized to explore establishment of a distribution program
for medical marijuana; and in the District of Columbia, voters
approved a treatment-instead-of-jail measure for pot