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Toke the vote: Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana

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One of the carefully watched measures on today’s ballot was Colorado’s Amendment 64 (PDF), known, at least by its backers, as the initiative to “regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

Although the measure directs the state to adopt a progressive approach to marijuana, including legalizing small amounts for personal use, most of the money for the measure—and against it—came from out-of-state groups, according to analysis by the Denver Post.

Clearly, this measure serves in many people’s minds as a precedent for similar measures nationwide. And in fact, Oregon put a similar measure before the voters. Washington’s Initiative 502 (PDF) paralleled the Colorado and Oregon measures but was felt to be a more likely win than Oregon’s.  

Arkansas and Massachusetts decided whether or not to allow for medical marijuana use. Montana voted to ratify the restrictions on medical marijuana that were previously proposed by the state’s legislature. And in Michigan, voters in Detroit, Flint, Ypsilanti and Grand Rapids decided on the decriminalization of marijuana in their cities.

@yungjoshw, a Web designer from Colorado Springs, voted for Amendment 64, tweeting, “i just voted yes on marijuana. i feel proud, i dedicated my vote to willie ariola murdered in the drug war 6/9/2007 denver, co.”

This tweet by @marshall_maria is a good example of one recurring trope: “whoever legalizes marijuana gets my vote.”

The first measure to be called was Massachusetts’, with 63 percent in favor and 37 percent opposed, at 40 percent of the vote counted.

“As a Massachusetts resident right now,” wrote Reddit user JohnnyFnUtah on r/trees, “November 6th is my April 20th.”

@globetrotter98 tweeted, “‘@GoogleFacts: Massachusetts has approved marijuana for medicinal purposes. #Election2012’ Be careful what u wish...err,vote for, Mass.”

With 38 percent of the votes counted, Colorado’s landmark amendment to legalize recreational use of marijuana was celebrated online as a win by some supporters.

GIF via Cheer Up Emo Kid/Tumblr

“AMENDMENT 64 PASSED!” announced Reddit user RoccoA87 on r/trees. “Toke on Ents!” Asked a commenter, “Are there really this many dumb people?”

It was strange to watch a Twitter stream with the search terms “marijuana” and “vote” and see people declare winners based on uncertain criteria. Washington’s I-502 passed, at one point, according to a number of Washington-based Twitter users, despite only 31 percent of the vote having been counted.

In Arkansas, within three minutes of one another, one person celebrated the passing of the state’s medical marijuana measure, while the other bitterly condemned its defeat.

In the midst of great political movement, social media communities can seem almost like a hive, a coral that flushes red then blue depending on unseen chemical and temperature changes washing over the colony.

The Denver Post called the Colorado amendment at just shy of 9:30pm Mountain Time. With more than 50 percent of the votes counted, the measure passed with 52.7 percent voting yes. Now we will have to see how serious the federal government is about retaining its control over drug laws.

As of 9:00pm Pacific Time, all the marijuana measures have either been called wins or are on their way. Only Alabama’s medical marijuana measure, which failed, and Montana’s restriction, which won, seem to mar the record.

It’ll be a high time in the old town tonight, if Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook are any indication.

"The wording on the initiatives isn't ideal, but the fact that two states voted in favor of legalization is a huge step in the right direction," comedian Doug Benson told the Daily Dot. "No one should be incarcerated for marijuana use. See you soon, Colorado and Washington! And often!"

Photo via Know Your Meme