The Ballot Initiatives That Changed America on Election Day

The Ballot Initiatives That Changed America on Election Day

Why you should care

Because these changes will impact you more than you know.

All eyes were glued on the presidential race the past couple of days, and for good reason. But voters looking for quick, direct change are probably better served considering the results of ballots filled out on Tuesday. From matters of life and death to the legalization of the good stuff, tallies are out on some of the most important issues plaguing our country. Here’s what you may have missed in the presidential hullabaloo:

A Win for Weed

The sixth-largest economy in the world — yes, we’re talking about you, California — eased restrictions on cannabis and ensured that Silicon Valley bros would be toking up undisturbed for decades to come. “This represents a monumental victory for the marijuana-reform movement,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “With California’s leadership now, the end of marijuana prohibition nationally — and even internationally — is fast approaching.” Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada also voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Medical marijuana initiatives passed in North Dakota, Arkansas, Montana and even Florida, making it the first in the south to adopt a (true) medical marijuana law. While others have made cannabis oil legal, this was the first to allow distribution of marijuana in cases of cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDS and a slew of other illnesses, to heal with the help of toking up. Of course, the marijuana industry responded positively to the news, with Jeffrey Zucker of Green Lion Partners commenting to OZY that this could show other states “what cannabis can truly do to raise state wellness as a whole.”

On Death Penalties and Suicides

Nebraska restored capital punishment after the state legislature banned it in 2015, cementing its status as a law-and-order conservative state. Meanwhile, Oklahoma passed a measure defending its death penalty laws by a two-thirds margin, and California failed to repeal the death penalty. In Colorado, where residents already can self-remedy, they can now also choose to end their own lives, after voting to pass assisted suicide with the approval of two doctors, joining six other states that allow the practice.

The Takeover of the Schools?

In the state of Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal — known for reforming the criminal-justice system there — had proposed another radical fix to what he saw as a flailing system. With his Opportunity School District proposal, voters were asked if the state should be given the power to intervene in chronically failing public schools “in order to improve student performance.” The measure was criticized on the left for its potential to hurt minority students attending poorer schools, while some on the right felt it was a state government takeover of the educational system, limiting local control. Jeremy Perrelle, a 33-year-old former teacher volunteering for Hillary Clinton, said he saw how such systems affected his school district outside Philly. “I witnessed firsthand the devastation it caused,” he says, adding that there was rampant cheating in his school to try to meet standardized test scores (and keep funding flowing). In the end, voters rejected the school takeover plan.

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