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Election 2010 Results: Alcohol Initiatives Mixed, Marijuana Measures Fail


Election night is over, and most of the results are in: it’s a mixed bag for the alcohol and other drug initiatives on state ballots.

Alcohol taxes, privatization, and “charge for harm”

Massachusetts voted to repeal a 6.25 percent alcohol tax, and Washington has blocked at least one measure seeking to privatize liquor distribution. Meanwhile, California approved Prop. 26, possibly negating efforts to require the alcohol industry, among others, to pay for the harm caused by their products.

Massachusetts voters narrowly approved Question 1 — by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin, at last tally — exempting alcohol purchases from sales tax. Last year, Mass. lawmakers had lifted a 6.25 percent sales tax exemption on beer, wine, and liquor. Passage of Question 1 restores the exemption. The alcohol industry — major proponents of the measure — outspent the No on 1 Campaign by a 15 to 1 margin, the campaign reported today.

Washington overwhelmingly struck down Initiative 1105, which would have privatized liquor distribution, removed liquor taxes, and forced retailers to purchase from distributors, with 63 percent rejecting I-1105. Initiative 1100 is too close to call at this moment. I-1100 also would have privatized distribution of liquor, and would have allowed for volume discounts. Most recent counts show I-1100 trailing with 48 percent approving, and 52 percent rejecting.

California’s Proposition 26 passed by about 54 percent of the votes. The measure — heavily funded by the alcohol industry– requires two-thirds instead of a simple majority to pass state or local “mitigation” fees that recoup some of the damage caused by products.

Marijuana legalization, medical marijuana

California’s efforts to legalize marijuana — a.k.a. Proposition 19 — fell short with 56 percent of voters rejecting the measure. Initiatives in South Dakota and Oregon related to medical marijuana also failed, and an Arizona initiative looks to falter, as well. South Dakota’s Measure 13 lost without a doubt: only 37 percent of voters gave their support. Oregon’s Measure 74 didn’t fare much better, garnering only 42 percent in “yes” votes. Arizona passed Proposition 203, the Medical Marijuana Act, by a slim 4,300-vote margin. (Early projections — including on this post — incorrectly reported that Arizona rejected Proposition 203.)

For more on marijuana initiative results, see: “Defeat of Calif. Legalization Initiative Highlights Poor Results for Marijuana Advocates” (Nov. 3, 2010).

Smoking Ban

Despite claims of public support from opponents (and supporters), South Dakota passed Referred Law 12 — which bans smoking in bars, restaurants and casinos — with 65 percent of the votes. The bans are set to go into effect on Nov. 10.

See also: For more information on alcohol and marijuana ballot initiatives, see: “Legalization, Medical Marijuana, and Alcohol Taxes Go Before State Voters Nov. 2” (Oct. 25, 2010).

Correction, Nov. 17, 2010: Early projections had Arizona rejecting Proposition 203. However, after two-weeks of counting votes, Arizona announced that Proposition 203 passed.

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