In a significant political breakthrough for opponents of the War on Drugs, Colorado and Washington voters passed referenda legalizing marijuana tonight. To my knowledge, these wins are the first time that any state has passed a referendum initiative that legalizes marijuana generally, as opposed to only for medical purposes. For reasons I outlined here, this is an important blow against the War on Drugs, and an indication that public opinion is gradually becoming more favorable to legalization. Colorado and Washington are both good-size states, and the former is a key political swing state. Massachusetts voters approved a less significant initiative that legalizes medical marijuana only.
Unfortunately it appears that Oregon voters rejected a marijuana legalization initiative in their state, and Arkansas (a very socially conservative state) has voted down the legalization of medical marijuana. Still, the overall trend is clearly positive for the legalization cause. As I explained in 2010, support for legalization has gradually been growing for decades, with each generation more supportive than their elders. For that reason, there is a good chance that we will see more progress on legalization in the future.