With all the hoopla surrounding the presidential election this year, it’s easy to forget there are a lot of important state ballot issues that will get decided today, as well. The following health-related state measures could affect residents’ reproductive rights, access to marijuana, right to assisted suicide and awareness of GMOs – as well as influence future policy in other states.
#marijuana – Colorado’s Amendment 64, Oregon’s State Measure 80, Washington’s Initiative Measure No. 502
Amendment 64 would legalize and tax marijuana in Colorado. There are currently 17 states that allow for medical marijuana, but none have yet legalized it for non-medical use. According to PBS, there have been eight failed attempts to legalize “recreational marijuana” since 1972. But that could change if measures in Colorado, Oregon or Washington this year pass. Oregon’s Measure 80, which would legalize possession and sale of marijuana through state-licensed stores, is expected to fail. But the Washington initiative, which would legalize the production, possession and distribution of marijuana in Washington, is thought likely to pass.
#abortion — Montana’s Legislative Referendum 120
Montana is one of only two states with abortion initiatives on the ballot today. As Amanda Marcotte at Slate notes, LR 120 is “a straightforward parental notification bill” that would require teens seeking an abortion to get parental permission. The bill’s language includes this gem: “The capacity to become pregnant and the capacity for mature judgment concerning the wisdom of an abortion are not necessarily related.” Apparently, lawmakers think raising a child requires no such capacity.
#assisted suicide — Massachusetts’ Question 2
Question 2 is a “right-to-die” measure that would allow assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. More info here.
#GMOs — California’s Proposition 37
Prop. 37 has received a lot of national media attention, and rightly so: If passed, it would make California the first state to require the labeling of genetically modified ingredients on all food and drinks. More info here.
#medical marijuana – Arkansas’ Issue No. 5, Massachusetts’ Question 3
These measures would allow for medical marijuana use in their respective states. The Arkansas measure is expected to fail, but the Massachusetts measure is expected to pass.
#health insurance — Alabama’s Amendment 6, Florida’s Amendment 1, Montana’s LR 122 and Wyoming’s Amendment A
Each of these proposed amendments would “prohibit individuals and businesses from being compelled to participate” in the health care system. These are reactions against the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate that are largely symbolic.” As PBS notes, “even if they were passed, they would be pre-empted by the federal health care law’s individual mandate, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in June.” They could hold some significance, though, should the health care law be repealed.