Going Down the Ballot: Vote for Your ATM (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Marijuana)

This is part three of the three-part series about vices you can vote on this election. Go down your ballot so you don’t miss a chance to vote on these important measures!

Part 1: Going Down the Ballot – Sex Referendums

Part 2: Going Down the Ballot – Your Right to Gamble  

Prohibition is alive and well in the United States. The repeal of the eighteenth amendment didn’t end local control of the alcohol, and tobacco and marijuana are often regulated, taxed or banned. Here are a list of prohibitions, repeals and regulations of substances voters will vote on.

1. Alcohol

Prohibition was repealed in 1933, but the US is still littered with dry counties and laws making selling alcohol a complex process.

In Ohio, liquor licenses are approved by ballot through local liquor options. A relic of the prohibition movement, these require businesses submit request to sell spirits and get voter approval in the precinct and tied to a specific address.

Sample include measures in Perry Township (Ashland County) and Euclid City (Cuyahoga County). I won’t list every election because there are 381 of them in the state this year. That means 381 location have to hope their customer base is able to sober up on Tuesday morning and get to the polls.

What! Yeah, 381 local liquor options.

2. Tobacco

Missouri is having a handful of tobacco related initiatives.

In St. Charles County, there are two public smoking bans on the ballot.  The first is a ban on smoking in all public enclosed places and workplaces. The second initiative would add exemptions for up to 20 percent of hotel rooms in the county and certain over-21 places, such as bars and the local casino.

Those who do smoke in the county better hope they win big at the casino, because the state is pushing an amendment to create a 73 cent tax increase on cigarettes, 25 percent tax on loose tobacco and a 15 percent tax on other tobacco products. The funds would support schools and smoking cessation programs.

3. Marijuana

Marijuana prohibition is facing challenges left and right. From medical use to full legalization and taxation, this is a bumper year with a crop of initiatives.

Medical Marijuna

Medical marijuana votes continue to spread, moving into reliably liberal Massachusetts and relatively conservative Arkansas this year. But the battle over medical marijuana doesn’t end at the state referendum. After the state law passes there is confusion over how to set up delivery of marijuana, which is often not addressed in state laws and still banned by federal law.

In Michigan, the city of Kalamazoo is seeking to allow three medical marijuana dispensaries to serve the city.

In the more libertarian state of Montana the move is to repeal any such regulations. The Medical Marijuana Veto Referendum seek to overturn state regulations on medical marijuana and make Montana a wild west of freewheeling medical marijuana use.

Marijuana Legalization/Decriminlization

This year also sees a push in many state and townships to legalize marijuana fully for adult use.

  • Oregon’s measure seeks to legalize marijuana personal growing, while allowing the state to regulate retail sales of marijuana. It also legalizes the production of industrial hemp.
  • Colorado rules allow the state to regulate sales and production, as well as legalizing hemp.
  • Washington version allows retails sales and state regulations and taxation of production and retail sales.
  • Michigan has three city initiative which seek to decriminalize possession of marijuana in the cities and to make marijuana the lowest priority for the local police. That initiatives are in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Ypsilanti.


Did we miss any Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana or other substance initiatives? Let us know in the comments. Check out the other two articles in this series regarding sex and gambling initiatives.

Related on The Smoking Jacket:
Going Down on the Ballot – Sex Referendums
Going Down the Ballot – Your Right to Gamble
Video Dump: The 5 Sexiest Political Ads
Marvin Gaye: The World’s Sexiest Politician
Missionary Mitt is All About the Ladies!