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Marijuana Advocates Hope to Party Coast to Coast on Election Day
culture  |  Nov 8, 2016

Marijuana Advocates Hope to Party Coast to Coast on Election Day

Will their events be celebrations or times for somber self-medication?

Will their events be celebrations or times for somber self-medication?

“Cautiously optimistic.”

That’s how many pro-marijuana spokespeople across the nation described their outlooks on the eve of Nov. 8, an election night that could be a sea change for marijuana laws across the U.S. as nine states vote on recreational or medicinal initiatives.

“We’ve had 18 polls in 12 months,” says Jason Kinney, spokesperson for California’s Yes on 64. “Everyone has shown Proposition 64 leading with a large majority of support, and double-digit margins of support.” Mr. Kinney believes legalization in California will be a turning point for legalization nationwide.

Election night watch parties are planned across the nation, especially in states like California and Florida.

The Yes on [Proposition] 64 campaign has two private events planned not open to the public.

The Drug Policy Alliance organized a Los Angeles event, located at Kyoto Gardens at Double Tree by Hilton, with a focus on non-profit social justice groups. The event will highlight folks dealing with marijuana convictions whose cases could be expunged if proposition 64 passes.

A San Francisco party at Verso, featuring officials including Gavin Newsom, will be the official broadcast location for Proposition 64 election results.

In Santa Monica, Calif., Kalogia is hosting an End of Prohibition event sponsored by GrowLyfe. A full bar with infused and non-infused appetizers will be open, and cannabis professionals will network and watch a live stream of polls.

Jetty Extracts, San Diego-based co2 oil extractor, will throw a party in downtown San Diego at the restaurant Sushi on a Roll. There will be live music and mixed drinks.

A Prop 64 “Victory Party” in San Diego’s gaslamp district will take place at Rooftop 600 at Andaz. There will be a Proposition 215 medicating area for those with medical recommendations.

Florida is another state where numerous parties are planned, as voters are poised to vote on “Amendment 2” (medicinal). There will be election night watch parties in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and elsewhere. Central Florida NORML is hosting the Tampa party.

In Orlando, at the Johann Strauss Ballroom, United for Care supporters and organizers will watch election results starting at 6:30 p.m.

The Miami watch party will be hosted by the International Cannabis Industry Association. Florida NORML has encouraged members to create their own watch parties at local coffee shops and bars.

Some election night watch events demonstrate different cultural aspects of the marijuana movements in certain states. For instance, in Arizona, Prop 205 (recreational) marijuana advocates cite a Phoenix area, zombie-themed paintball party for the Libertarian Party as a mellow event choice for the evening. The Arizona Libertarian Party supports ending prohibition. Both State Chair, Michael Kielsky, and National Chair, Nicholas Sarwalk, have advocated for legalizing cannabis.

Cannabis advocates are “cautiously optimistic” in Maine. “Polls are tightening, though,” says Yes on 1 writer David Boyer.

Maine’s Yes on 1 (recreational) will watch results from the Portland Westin. The party starts at 8 p.m.

In Massachusetts, parties are being planned in-town by the Yes on 4 (recreational) campaign. A “Toasty Tuesday” election night Yes on 4 campaign party goes from 7:45 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. at Lir on Boylston.

In Nevada, where there are currently no party plans, the latest public poll (Rasmussen) shows a 53-41 split, with 6 percent undecided.

“We are pleased to see that Nevada voters seem to be more supportive of Question 2 as they receive more information about the measure,” says Joe Brezny, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “...We are taking nothing for granted, however.”

In Montana, where voters will vote on I-182 (medicinal), the local NORML chapter knows of no watch parties. “Most of those involved will be phone banking until polls close tomorrow night,” says Montana NORML representative Nicole French. “We have the support, we know that. There’s some voter apathy at the moment, but we are hopeful.”

A North Dakota representative imparts: “I’m cautiously optimistic but still am incredibly nervous. We've done everything we can, but a little divine intervention wouldn't be a bad thing.” There’s a "quiet watch" planned in Downtown Fargo, North Dakota at 210 Broadway North. 7:30pm. The focus there is on patients. 

"Because this is a medical referendum, a lot of our circulators were in the 50+ age group," the representative said. "The young people who helped were doing it for their parents or because they're sick personally. It seems weird to have a 'party' when we were hoping for patients to feel better." That's been the point all along, the representative points out.

“If all models remain consistent we are going to have a successful election night,” says Mr. Kinney. “We have a very crowded ballot, 17 propositions statewide [in California]. It’s important for millennials turn out under the age of 40. If they make it all the way to ballot and vote yes on 64, we’ll be successful. That’s a banner day not in California, but across the country.”


Justin is a California-based writer who covers music, cannabis, craft beer, Baja California, science and technology. His writing has appeared in VICE and the San Diego Reader.