Laboratories for Democracy: State-Level Variation in Recreational Marijuana Ballot Initiative Outcomes Open Access
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The War on Drugs has prompted a policy and jurisdictional battle between the federal government and select states across the country. While the federal government maintains marijuana under a Schedule I classification, certain states have introduced and successfully passed recreational marijuana legislation through ballot initiatives that decriminalize marijuana under certain conditions. Relying on a qualitative analysis of newspaper articles, editorials, and interviews, this thesis examines the social and political forces that influence whether a recreational marijuana ballot initiative fails or succeeds. A case study involving a comparative examination of legalization debates is conducted for states that have recently had decriminalization measures on the ballot during the Obama Administration (2008-Present). Findings will illustrate the similarities and differences between the provisions of each state, and the paper will make recommendations for a "best practices" approach to debating and presenting marijuana policy via the ballot initiative process.