States Pass Historic Laws on Election Night
Justin Sullivan and Andy Davis
jsull828@uwsp.edu - adavi481@uwsp.edu
President Barack Obama was re-elected on Tuesday, capturing Wisconsin and six other swing states in an election that did little to change the political makeup in Washington D.C.

The Republican Party kept its 233-193 majority in the House of Representatives, and the Democratic Party held its 53-45 majority in the Senate. Voters pushed through changes on a variety of other issues.

Voters in Colorado and Washington passed referendums that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. A similar referendum was voted down in Oregon, and voters in Massachusetts approved medicinal marijuana use. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is still contesting the measure, however.

On Wednesday morning the DEA released a statement reaffirming that the “enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.”

The Controlled Substances Act—passed by Congress in 1970—consolidated laws against the manufacture and distribution of numerous narcotics, including marijuana, illegalizing the drug. A full copy can be found at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.

Colorado’s referendum, known as Amendment 64, would amend the state constitution to legalize and regulate production, possession and distribution for people 21 years of age and older. Washington’s Initiative 502 would do the same thing, but would also impose a 25 percent tax rate on transactions of marijuana from grower to processor, processor to retailer, and retailer to consumer.

“The Department of Justice is reviewing the ballot initiatives, and we have no additional comment at this time,” the DEA statement concluded.

On Tuesday night, Maryland, Maine and Washington passed measures to legalize same-sex marriage, marking the first time same-sex marriage rights have been approved by popular vote. Obama— the first U.S. president to openly support gay marriage—endorsed the measures in these three states during the campaign. In Minnesota, a proposal was voted down that would have defined marriage as a purely heterosexual union.

On the same night, Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay politician and the first Wisconsin woman to be elected to U.S. Senate, receiving about 167,000 more votes than Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson. Wisconsin Congressman and Governor Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan won his eighth term as a representative for southern Wisconsin’s 1st District.