Dane County pot referendum passes easily: What does it mean?

2014-04-02T09:00:00Z Dane County pot referendum passes easily: What does it mean?JACK CRAVER | The Capital Times | jcraver@madison.com madison.com

Dane County voters strongly backed a referendum advising the state to legalize marijuana on Tuesday, sending a message that drug reform is a cause that liberal voters expect their elected officials to champion.

The measure was backed by 64.5 percent of voters.

The referendum is only a symbolic gesture and has no binding effect.

While the referendum’s passage was surprising to nobody familiar with area politics, its strong performance in some of the county’s more conservative precincts reaffirms what polls have shown: legalization may be coming soon to Wisconsin.

The referendum failed in the towns of Dane, Christiana, Vienna, Medina, Roxbury, Springfield and York. With the exception of Christiana, all of those municipalities backed Gov. Scott Walker in the 2012 recall election.

But the referendum passed in at least three municipalities that Walker carried: The village of Dane, the town of Bristol and the town of Black Earth.

That the results of the ballot measure so closely mirror the county’s partisan divisions suggest that Democratic candidates can embrace marijuana legalization without alienating Democratic voters. Currently, only a handful of Democratic lawmakers in the state have endorsed full legalization of recreational pot, with others suggesting they are open to the idea but not yet willing to commit to it.

Similarly, Republican lawmakers will likely be reluctant to support legalization.

Granted, because the referendum took place in the spring, when the turnout is low and the electorate is much older, the results may not display the full potential of legalization in a statewide election. In a presidential election year, for instance, the thousands of students and other young voters coming to the polls could tilt the results even further in favor of legalization.

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(46) Comments

  1. JusMe2
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    JusMe2 - April 17, 2014 3:32 pm
    How can you possibly judge people you don't know? Let alone judge them! Pathetic! You can to talk illegal .. try looking at the use of legal drugs. Take a look at the epidemic of heroin abuse that is killing our children!! Shut your mouth and open your eyes and ears to reality!
  2. 608ALLday
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    608ALLday - April 15, 2014 3:03 pm
    Drinking is legal and is worse and more dangerous physically then pot ever will be
  3. 608ALLday
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    608ALLday - April 15, 2014 2:58 pm
    You are a pathetic loner
  4. EWT
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    EWT - April 10, 2014 8:27 am
    I don't care. As long as the laws on pot include the same restrictions as on tobacco and alcohol go for it. I don't want exposure to second hand smoke nor do I want to be on the road with anyone intoxicated by any chemical.
  5. Bill01
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    Bill01 - April 04, 2014 8:03 am
    I was kind of surprised that there are that many burnouts in Dane County. It would be interesting to see an age breakdown of the vote. I was thinking that the dopesmokers would mostly be under age 25, and that most of them wouldn't be able to find where to vote. And if you're over 25 and still smoke, then you're just a loser. Smoking is bad for you, I think we all agree on that. So I should tell my kids don't smoke cigs, but go ahead and smoke a little weed. Bottom line is that it's illegal, for losers, and socially unacceptable. Find something else to do. And we all know that the whole medical marijauna industry is an absolute joke.
  6. Billie
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    Billie - April 03, 2014 3:20 am
    Tavern league has little to do with it. a field test for THC toxicity, is the main issue holding things up. And then there is this rhetoric about the "failed drug war". Do you understand that the "drug war" is about Heroin, Cocaine, and Meth too. Talk about hitching your your story to the wrong horse. This is a real stupid PR move. But then again,THC doesn't improve IQ or thinking capacity. LOL.
  7. Billie
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    Billie - April 03, 2014 3:15 am
    The apartment industry is already going smoke free in anticipation of this. Imagine all of that pot to smoke, and when you do, you loose your apartment.
  8. Billie
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    Billie - April 03, 2014 3:12 am
    Spooky...how many people do you think go to prison for having an once or less of pot?
    The numbers are pretty low. Most people that are in prison that have pot as an offense, also have other charges. That got them there.
  9. Billie
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    Billie - April 03, 2014 3:11 am
    Russell, do you know that the "failed drug war" rhetoric also includes Heroin, cocaine and meth? How do you feel about legalizing that?
  10. Covertghost
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    Covertghost - April 03, 2014 1:08 am
    Wisconsin will be one of the last 5 states to legalize, tavern league lobbying owns this state.
  11. rgoppelt
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    rgoppelt - April 02, 2014 7:03 pm
    Hemp was legal during the wars to provide materials for clothing. Hemp could be a good crop for Wisconsin farmers. We could use the money for a real property tax cut. Hemp grows wild in corn fields. Colorado is going to make well over 600 million dollars in revenue. Couldn't we use that in Wisconsin to give tax breaks to the rich and few pennies to the middle class and poor. We should push the slogan, Legalize Hemp, Help the 1% get Richer. The 1% will be all for it and the legalization of hemp will happen.
  12. Stuck In The Middle With You
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    Stuck In The Middle With You - April 02, 2014 6:52 pm
    If Bill Kramer had been smoking instead of drinking he might not be facing felony charges. Hey Lynne, maybe someone could set you up on a blind date with Bill since his schedule is pretty clear right now.
  13. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - April 02, 2014 5:18 pm
    Most of what makes pot expensive is all the extra money required for evading the law while growing, harvesting, refining, packaging, transporting, marketing, and selling it. At every step along the way, there are added expenses for camouflage, bribes, lookouts, couriers, fines, guns, lawyers, etc.

    Marijuana is a weed. If it were legal, it wouldn't be any more expensive than selling dandelions.

    The one group that would find it harder to get would be young people, because they'd have to prove their age, the same way they do now for tobacco and alcohol, before any store owner would sell it to them.

    Wanna keep kids off pot? Make it legal, and take the profits away from the criminal underworld. The youth market all by itself isn't big enuf to justify their staying in the business.
  14. spooky tooth
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    spooky tooth - April 02, 2014 5:10 pm

    By middle school any kid can get pot because its underground, its illegal. Kids have a very hard time getting alcohol because its legal.

    Your argument is totally false.
  15. resvoirdog
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    resvoirdog - April 02, 2014 5:08 pm
    LOL! That will be awesome. Sit on my computer, get wasted, smoke some dope and win some money gambling. Hell, if I get bored I can throw a little porn on. Living in today's world rules!
  16. spooky tooth
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    spooky tooth - April 02, 2014 5:06 pm
    High Time people are coming to their senses about the dumbest law on the books. We've ruined tens of thousands of lives by criminalizing people for using it.
  17. dave from monona
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    dave from monona - April 02, 2014 4:15 pm
    Legalizing Pot, will only allow more deals under the table. It is already easy to get, and now with a fake prescription from doctors, more deals, pot in school, and easy availability for kids to access it. We already are not suspending kids no longer, so? why not doap them up in detention, that will keep them in school. When you make something easier to purchase, that is illegal, let’s just make all durgsleagal. I say to those crack pots, be careful what you wish for, it was not expensive before, but now will really take a bite out of your pocket..
  18. 608ALLday
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    608ALLday - April 02, 2014 2:30 pm
    Did you not understand? Am I writing a graded paper? This is the comment section so grammar Nazi take a chill.
  19. Cheezer
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    Cheezer - April 02, 2014 2:03 pm
    "says a most likely drunk" ..... product of the public school system are we?
  20. 608ALLday
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    608ALLday - April 02, 2014 1:43 pm
    Says a most likely drunk
  21. jonas
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    jonas - April 02, 2014 12:34 pm
    The question in 2010 was specifically about medical marijuana and passed with 75.49% in favor. The question in 2014 was specifically about legalization of marijuana and passed with 64.5% in favor.
  22. Cheezer
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    Cheezer - April 02, 2014 12:06 pm
    Ah.... JUST what Madison needs... more stoners! Good luck yutes of America, good luck.
  23. myvoice
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    myvoice - April 02, 2014 11:18 am
    middleoftheroad, do you have any idea the amount of abuse that occurs with "legal" drugs? It is overwhelming! You want to talk about selling crack to our kids? How about the abuse, overdose and death from all too common "legal"street drugs like oxy and percocet? It's obvious to me that it's all about what YOU consider moral and about YOUR values as evidenced in the last sentence of your comment. The addiction rate of prescription drugs is mind boggling. Feeling sad...take a pill. Have a little back pain...take a pill. And when they don't work any longer, well then let's add another pill or increase the dosage of that pain medication. Not to mention the additional medications that are prescribed to combat the side effects of the originally prescribed "legal" pills. It's a viscous cycle pushed on the American people via endless commercials and advertising and yet you have an issue with a plant that grows from the earth that has numerous health benefits. Your argument makes no sense to me.
  24. PapaLorax
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    PapaLorax - April 02, 2014 11:08 am
    it was only in dane county...but it was non-binding and completely meaningless.
  25. w8rh3wk5
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    w8rh3wk5 - April 02, 2014 10:53 am
    I'm hoping this become legalized along with online poker. So much money is possible for both.
  26. XLBadger
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    XLBadger - April 02, 2014 10:47 am
    You're still an idiot because we say you are ... no movement will change that!
  27. youareme7
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    youareme7 - April 02, 2014 10:21 am
    Based on what I've seen Wisconsin is going to be behind the "wave" that's just beginning to crest. My guess is the state government will have to be dragged kicking and screaming and after many other forward looking states have already made the leap. It's all but inevitable but since Wisconsin is one of the few states that does not have voter backed ballot initiatives they won't be forced by the population like other states have been and will continue to be as front runners.
  28. jh2215
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    jh2215 - April 02, 2014 10:14 am
    As an out of state student at UW Madison, what do people think the future looks like in terms of legalization? Was this referendum referring to state-wide legalization, like in CO and WA?
  29. JoLi
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    JoLi - April 02, 2014 10:13 am
    promote this by looking at the Money we could make from getting into the illegal drug trade is shameful
    I think it's much more shameful for society to continue the hypocrisy in having this natural, far less dangerous, almost non-addictive substance be illegal, while far more destructive, far more addictive alchohol and tobacco are not only legal, they're highly marketed. Why do you love hypocrisy?
  30. PapaLorax
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    PapaLorax - April 02, 2014 9:50 am
    better said then me...
  31. youareme7
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    youareme7 - April 02, 2014 9:42 am
    This should surprise no one considering that in 2010 the same question actually got 75% but it's still good to see. The smart republicans better stop with the culture war BS in a hurry and embrace individual freedoms if they want to remain relevant, and I truly hope they do. The moral panicking and pants-wetting over a plant objectively safer than alcohol and of much more medical benefit is a total loser. Focus on the winners; smaller, more efficient government that respects people's rights and stays out of the bedroom and the boardroom.
  32. BadgerJobCreator
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    BadgerJobCreator - April 02, 2014 9:40 am
    Even Waukesha wants $ out of politics. More votes than you can shake a stick at.
  33. BadgerJobCreator
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    BadgerJobCreator - April 02, 2014 9:33 am
    The supreme court has repeatedly ruled that students place of residence can be where they reside.

    Additionally, there is a Voter ID in effect: its called registration.
  34. BadgerJobCreator
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    BadgerJobCreator - April 02, 2014 9:32 am
    1. Gallup says differently in national polling data: http://www.gallup.com/poll/165539/first-time-americans-favor-legalizing-marijuana.aspx

    2. The demographics have clear breakdowns: 18 to 49 year olds overwhelmingly favor legalization 2 to 1.

    3. The crotchy old people, like yourself, who equate crack cocaine with marijuana are not only a dying breed, but the laughing stock of even those who aren't stoned.

    4. Even soccer mom's favorite family physician, Dr. Sanjeev Gupta, has changed his stance on medical marijuana.

    5. Its not illegal if its legal, so drop the use of the term illegal, its prejudicial rather than informative.

    6. The budget implications are both on the spending side and the tax side. Conservatives, such as LEO Against the Drug War, should applaud the cessation of wasteful spending by local, state and federal law enforcement, criminal justice, etc.

    7. Both Cost-Benefit Analysis and empirical/outcome based measurements favor a public health approach to marijuana, which has been dramatically successful on the tobacco front.

    8. Greens, liberals, libertarians and thinking conservatives can unite around a simple policy issue. Poly-partisanship is better than bi-partisanship.
  35. PapaLorax
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    PapaLorax - April 02, 2014 9:25 am
    did you find the GOP shameful in the Bush years bringing anti-gay marriage issues to the ballot to increase hard-right turnout?

    You can't be against using the process for your advantage...unless you are always against that.
  36. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - April 02, 2014 9:25 am
    This article covers only 1 of 2 referenda on the ballot yesterday. In the student ward just off campus where I served as an election official, only 7 electors voted against legalizing pot, but the surprising thing is that even fewer (6) voted against redistricting reform.

    That's right. In a student ward on the campus of UW-Madison, good government is more popular than pot.

    Gives me hope for the future.

    Meanwhile, the ever reliable GOP shill Lynne4300 and the ill-named MiddleOfTheRoad continue to demonstrate why the Republicans are clueless when it comes to attempting to appeal to the voters of the future.
  37. PapaLorax
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    PapaLorax - April 02, 2014 9:24 am
    pretty sure dem control tomorrow wouldn't change it either...
  38. PapaLorax
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    PapaLorax - April 02, 2014 9:23 am
    18 states in addition to the two have medical use...big handful.

    Anyone who believes in the freedom and self determination should strongly support removing the prohibition on pot...and the only consistent view would be to believe that Alcohol should also be prohibited.

    You keep calling it an "illegal drug"...well it is only illegal because we say it is illegal...hence the movement to not make illegal anymore.
  39. sundea
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    sundea - April 02, 2014 9:23 am
    I didn't receive any pot for my vote...

    And lumping all voters for legalization into "liberals" is extremely narrow-minded. I know plenty of republicans who think legalization would be beneficial for the state.
  40. Nun uv yurs
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    Nun uv yurs - April 02, 2014 9:21 am
    lol@ middle of the road. I have never read one balanced comment from you.

    google is your friend:

    20 states and DC have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana
  41. midwestguy
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    midwestguy - April 02, 2014 9:16 am

    Actually, the student turnout was predictably abysmal in Madison.
  42. Lynne4300
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    Lynne4300 - April 02, 2014 9:03 am
    Great idea, liberals! Pot for votes, sure beats the free BBQ they used in Milwaukee for votes!
  43. Report Abuse
    - April 02, 2014 9:01 am
    There is No countrywide movement. All states but 2 say no. Only a handful even allow Medical pot use. The vast majority of states are still firmly against approving and allowing illegal drugs. The fact that liberals are trying to promote this by looking at the Money we could make from getting into the illegal drug trade is shameful. Let's just start selling crack to kids too. lots of Money to be made their and then Dane Co could buy up more land to take off the tax rolls. great management libbies........... without any morals or values.
  44. Report Abuse
    - April 02, 2014 8:57 am
    It means nothing. Who didn't already know that Dane county has a majority of Liberals but doesn't mirror the feelings or views of the rest of the state AT ALL. In fact if it can only pass in Dane county by 64% that actually shows it has no chance statewide. You'd need more like 75% in Dane to overcome the rest of the state all polls show is staunchly against this. Meanwhile it really makes me wonder how many UW students voted here in Dane when they are only temporary residents? How many cast their votes illegally when their true voting district is elsewhere? This is exactly why we need voter ID and proper registration processes. Many of these people who only live here while attending school should Not be affecting local races here. Meanwhile Good old Dane county used this Pot Referendum and redistricting referendum to draw Liberal voters out so they would then vote on the Dane Co supervisors to help win the majority there. It is really an improper and illegal use of our Taxes for partisan political purposes. shameful
  45. jonas
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    jonas - April 02, 2014 8:12 am
    It means that we have to get the word out to Christiana, Town of Dane, Medina, Roxbury, Springfield, Vienna, York, Oregon, Edgerton and Madison Ward 24. These are the only areas where the majority did not support this referendum.

    This is a countywide voice at a key time in marijuana prohibition's demise. This should encourage other counties and municipalities to address the racial inequality in enforcement of marijuana laws. It should expose that Wisconsin spends upwards of $75 million/year enforcing marijuana laws.

    This is important, but could have been better if Dane County set the bar in creating a legal framework for the county.
  46. dakref
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    dakref - April 02, 2014 7:41 am
    It's pretty certain legalization will never happen under the current fascist regime.
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