Abortion, cannabis, Mississippi flag … the results of local referendums in the United States

If there is a wave in these American elections, it is neither Republican red nor Democratic blue, but green, like the chlorophyll that tints the leaves of hemp. This Wednesday, at the end of the local referendums that accompanied the American presidential election – at this time still very uncertain – four new American states should legalize the recreational use of cannabis, despite federal prohibition. Six years after the pioneering legalization of weed in Colorado, Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana are now part of America won by the relaxation of drug laws.

Magnolia flower

Without forgetting the therapeutic use, legalized in Mississippi as in more than two thirds of the United States now. In Oregon, one of the most progressive American states, voters approved the decriminalization of the possession (in small quantities, of course) and the use of all drugs (heroin, cocaine) such as therapeutic use of hallucinogenic mushrooms. A measure that says a lot about the turnaround of American society on the response to be given to the consumption of narcotics in barely ten years. And this despite the very serious crisis linked to the use of opiates, which kill tens of thousands of people by overdose each year.

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Another important result of these local referendums, although symbolic: voters in Mississippi voted in favor of changing their state’s flag. Since 1894, the banner of this southern state has in fact sported the Confederate emblem (a blue cross on a red background punctuated by 13 white stars), a symbol which the legislators of Mississippi had voted to withdraw in June, a few weeks after the demonstrations that followed the murder of George Floyd. The state, with a slave and segregationist past, was the last in the United States to float the southern emblem above its institutions, despite previous attempts to suppress it. Its flag will now consist of a magnolia flower on a blue background surrounded, of course, currency «In God We Trust».

«Gig economy»

But voters also went to the polls to express themselves on socio-economic measures. This is the case in the District of Columbia (Washington) or in Florida, state won by Donald Trump, where a majority voted in favor of a constitutional amendment aiming to increase the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour. (12.8 euros) by 2026. To date, eight American states (including Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania) have followed this upward movement launched four years ago in California. Nonetheless, voters in this other very progressive state agreed with the companies of the «gig economy», Uber and Lyft, at the origin of a popular initiative, the «proposition 22», to prevent the reclassification of independent drivers and delivery drivers of private driver’s platforms into employees. And this, despite a law passed by California lawmakers last year.

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Finally, in Louisiana, voters voted for an anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution, a few months after a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a law restricting abortion. Thus, the right to abortion will no longer be guaranteed in this state of the “Bible Belt” (an ultra-conservative southern region where very restrictive legislation in this area has flourished in recent years). Unlike Colorado, where voters refused any limitation on access to abortion. It should be noted, and this is a first in the United States, that the voters of this state famous for its national parks were able to express themselves on the reintroduction of the gray wolf, that the federal administration just removed from the endangered species list. According to provisional results, they seem to have said “yes” to this environmental measure supported by scientists and environmental activists.

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