Speed Reads

Going to pot (or not)

Marijuana legalization is threatened by a GOP midterm wave, too

In the 2014 midterms, pot legalization advocates had high hopes of capitalizing on this success in Washington State and Colorado, getting referenda on the ballot in three very different states: Oregon, Alaska, and Florida. The polling was initially solidly in favor of all three measures — Oregon and Alaska are voting on full legalization, Florida for medical marijuana — but an influx of anti-legalization cash and hiccups in Washington and Colorado have put all three referenda in doubt, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Oregon's second shot at legalization is the best bet of the three, with recent polls showing narrow majority support for Measure 91. In Alaska, the polling on Measure 2 is considered unreliable, but even with the pro-legaliziation side better financed, the prospects aren't great for the bill.

In Florida, conservative Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson has dumped at least $5 million into sinking Amendment 2 — 85 percent of the "no" campaign budget — and most recent polls show it falling short of the 60 percent threshold it needs to become law. (The Broward/Palm Beach New Times is still bullish on Amendment 2, touting a new poll showing 61 percent support.)

But as with all races in the midterms, which side wins depends on who shows up to vote. And since conservatives are more fired up than the political left this election, legalized marijuana faces a higher bar. "We're dealing with a tough mood in the country right now with Ebola and ISIS and the big drop in the stock market," Ethan Nadelmann at the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance tells the Los Angeles Times. "It puts a drag on things. People are not in a forward-thinking state of mind. They are more wary of change."