Pot backers braced for a big day Tuesday as voters prepared to decide the fate of proposed marijuana legalization measures in Alaska, Oregon, Florida and Washington, D.C.
An early victory came in Guam, which became the first U.S. territory to legalize medical marijuana.
“The marijuana majority is a truly global phenomenon,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority, who predicted a “very big day.”
The most high-profile contests were set in Alaska and Oregon, which could join Washington and Colorado as the only states to fully legalization marijuana for recreational use.
Florida voters were to decide whether to make their state the 24th to allow marijuana to be used for medical reasons.
And residents of Washington, D.C., were voting on whether to make possession of up to two ounces of pot legal for adults 21 and older.
Mason Tvert, spokesman for the pro-legalization group Marijuana Policy Project, said it was clear that public attitudes are shifting.
“It’s only a matter of time before that is reflected in laws nationwide,” he said.
Legalization opponents said that voters may be rethinking their position on marijuana, noting that a poll last week by the Pew Research Center found that 52 percent of Americans now back legalization. That’s a drop of 2 percentage points since February.
“Anything short of clear passage of legalization measures across the country will be crushing to the legalization machine, which outspent legalization opponents by 20-1,” said Kevin Sabet of the anti-legalization group SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana.)
Sabet said voters may be experiencing “buyer’s remorse” when it comes to legalization.
“This may indeed turn out to be the night history marks as a turning point away from legalization,” he said.