Ballot measures yield gains, losses for liberty


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For better or for worse, voters across the country approved or rejected 162 statewide ballot measures on Election Day.

Joining Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, voters in Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California ended their state’s prohibition on cannabis.

In another four states — Florida, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota — voters legalized medicinal marijuana.

David Bienenstock, Head of Content at High Times Magazine, said on election night, “Voters across America have once again proven that cannabis legalization is not only a moral imperative, it’s also extremely popular public policy. No longer can our elected officials defend the government’s self-destructive and utterly failed War on Marijuana. This is a huge win for public safety, civil rights, personal liberty and sound governance, brought to you by a true grassroots movement that had to fight for decades against both major political parties, the corporate media, Big Pharma, and the rest of the establishment to bring about this historic change.”

Andy Williams, co-founder of Medicine Man Technologies, a cannabis-industry consulting firm, said, “After a banner election, the cannabis industry is poised for exponential growth across several new markets. People have voiced their opinion in support of sensible policy reform, and soon millions of new patients and consumers will have access to safely produced and tested cannabis products.”

In two major victories for the Libertarian Party, Ranked Choice Voting won in Maine (see article, p. 3) and voters rejected “Top Two” open primary elections in South Dakota. Its defeat marks the third consecutive failed attempt to pass top-two by referendum in the last six years.

Top-two open (or “blanket”) primaries allow only the first-place and second-place vote-getters to advance to the general-election ballot, making it extremely difficult for Libertarians to compete in fall elections — except in districts with “safe seats” where incumbents are entrenched. Residents continue to suffer from top-two primaries in California and Washington, where voters passed the law before there was widespread understanding of its devastating effects.

Some key statewide ballot-measure wins and losses for liberty are listed beneath this article. •

Liberty Victories


  • Ranked-choice voting passed in Maine (see article, p. 3).
  • Top Two primary elections defeated in South Dakota.

Drug War:

  • Recreational marijuana became legal in Nevada and Massachusetts.
  • Recreational marijuana in Arizona remains illegal, which would have been a loss of freedom, except that it was a crony-capitalist measure.
  • Reclassification of drug possession as misdemeanor passed in Oklahoma.
  • Medicinal marijuana legalized in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota, and expanded in Montana.

Gun rights:

  • Anti-gun law defeated in Maine.


  • Sales-tax increase defeated in Oklahoma.
  • Tax increase on businesses with more than $25 million in annual sales defeated in Oregon.

Health care:

  • Single-payer health-care law defeated in Colorado.

Personal liberty: 

  • The right to medical aid in dying passed in Colorado.
  • Mandate to use condoms in pornographic films defeated in California.

Liberty Losses


  • Constitutional amendments are now far more difficult to get onto the ballot in Colorado, because of a measure that passed.
  • Taxpayer subsidies and regulations on political campaigns passed in South Dakota.

Drug War:

  • Recreational marijuana became legal in California, which would have been a freedom victory, except that it introduced harsh restrictions on medicinal marijuana. The California LP opposed the measure.

Gun rights:

  • Anti-gun laws passed in three states: Washington, California, and Nevada.


  • Tax increase on individuals who earn $200,000 or more passed in Maine.


  • Minimum-wage laws (price-fixing of wages) won in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington
  • A referendum to overturn the state legislature’s reduction of the minimum wage passed in South Dakota, forcing employers to pay above-market wages.


  • Repeal of the death penalty defeated in California and Nebraska.
  • A constitutional amendment allowing the death penalty won in Oklahoma.