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Voting on drugs, guns and money

In eight states and DC, voters decide on legalizing marijuana, gun rights and increasing the minimum wage

Voters in key states are not only deciding which candidates and parties will control government in one of the most contentious midterm elections in U.S. history; they're also weighing in on highly controversial state measures.

In more than half a dozen states, voters face decisions on issues like the legalization of marijuana and increasing the minimum wage. In Washington state, voters will cast ballots on two opposing measures regarding gun laws. 

Drugs: Legalizing marijuana

Colorado and Washington are currently the only states where the use, production and sale of marijuana are legal. Voters elsewhere may decide to add their states to the list.


Ballot Measure No. 2 calls for the state to tax and regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana. If passed, the use of marijuana would become legal in the state for anyone 21 or older.

The bill would restrict the use of marijuana in public and allow local governments to prohibit the operation of marijuana-related establishments. 


Ballot Measure No. 91 would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. It would allow the possession of marijuana and authorize in-state manufacture, processing and sale of marijuana by and to adults. Additionally, the measure would task the Oregon Liquor Control Commission with regulating sales of the drug. The measure would not affect current medical marijuana laws.

If the measure passes, adults 21 years or older would be allowed to possess up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana and up to four cannabis plants.

District of Columbia

Ballot Measure No. 71 calls for the district to allow adults 21 years or older to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana for personal use and to grow no more than six cannabis plants, with three or fewer being mature flowering plants at a person’s residence.

The bill does not address the regulation or legalization of marijuana sales.


Ballot Measure No. 2 covers the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes only.   

The bill would allow “the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician.” According to the measure, debilitating medical conditions include cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The measure would allow caregivers to assist patients in the medical use of marijuana.


Despite gun violence and incidents of mass shootings, gun control and gun rights advocates remain divided on how to balance the right to bear arms and the need to keep Americans safe. That split is evident with two competing measures on the ballot in one state.


Measure No. 591 calls for the protection of gun rights. The bill would “prohibit government agencies from confiscating guns or other firearms from citizens without due process or from requiring background checks on firearm recipients unless a uniform national standard is required.”

Measure No 594, on the other hand, would tighten gun laws in the state. The measure would “apply currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions.” 

Money: Minimum wage

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, a rate set in 2009. The minimum wage varies by state; where the federal and state governments set different minimum rates, the higher wage applies.


Ballot Measure No. 3 calls for the increase of Alaska’s minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 per hour on Jan. 1, 2015, and then to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2016.


Ballot Measure No. 5 would bring Arkansas’ minimum wage above the federal level. It calls for an increase from the current $6.25 to $7.50 on Jan. 1, 2015, and then to $8.00 in 2016 and $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2017.


Ballot Measure No. 425 would lift Nebraska’s minimum wage from the federal level to $8.00 on Jan. 1, 2015, and to $9.00 a year later.

South Dakota

Ballot Measure No. 18 would increase the state's minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2015. The bill also calls for the rate to be adjusted annually to reflect inflation. Additionally, the measure would set the minimum rate for tipped employees at half the minimum wage, raising their hourly pay from $2.13 to $4.25.


House Bill 3814, unlike referendums in the states above, is nonbinding. The bill asks voters if the minimum wage for people 18 or older should be increased to $10 per hour. The current minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 per hour. If voters approve, lawmakers would stand as advised to implement the vote into law.

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