Results of Ballot Initiatives that May Surprise You

The ballots have been cast and the voters have decided; here are some initiatives from around the nation with results that may surprise you.

Photo by: Kelly Minars

Photo by: Kelly Minars

Legalization of marijuana

Some feel the legalization of marijuana is an issue that should’ve been resolved on a national level long ago. As it stands however, marijuana laws differ by state.

Marijuana Initiatives

Photo by: Chuck Coker

• Before Tuesday’s polls, medical marijuana was legal in 18 states; that number is currently 22. Now residents of Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota who are suffering from medical conditions such as epilepsy, glaucoma, and chronic pain will now be able to use medical marijuana that includes the psychoactive ingredient THC to help treat their symptoms.

• For those who wish to have the plant for leisure use: California, Nevada, and Massachusetts voters have joined with those in other states including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington (and Washington D.C.) by voting in majority of initiatives that legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Maine could join that list, but currently is 50/50 while they wait for the 2% that haven’t reported yet. 52% of Arizona voters chose to stick with medical marijuana only while Utah didn’t even have marijuana on the ballot; the beehive state currently allows limited medical marijuana only along with 14 other states.

Death penalty

Capital punishment continues to be a sensitive issue. Many believe that those offenders who are found guilty of the most heinous of crimes should be removed from existence while others don’t believe taking a life is ever okay. Three states had initiatives on the ballot regarding the death penalty:

Photo by: Global Panorama

Photo by: Global Panorama

• California voters chose to not only keep the death penalty, but to hasten the time it takes for executions to be carried out.

• Residents in Oklahoma chose to protect the death penalty by amending the state constitution and giving lawmakers the option to choose other methods of execution if needed.

• The people of Nebraska chose to bring back the death penalty after their state legislature voted to abolish it just last year. Nebraska rejoins 30 other states that currently support the death penalty.

• The death penalty was not on the ballot for Utah where it is legal and usually carried out by lethal injection. The firing squad is another option however, with this method being used last in June of 2010 for the capital punishment of Ronnie Gardner.

Gun laws

With the countless incidents around the country where innocent people have lost their lives at the hands of crazed individuals wielding guns, some states chose to add initiatives to the ballots which toughen laws regarding gun control.

Photo by: frankieleon

Photo by: frankieleon

• 63% of California residents voted “yes” on proposition 63 which would require background checks on individuals purchasing any ammo and outlaw the possession of large capacity magazines.

• Residents in Washington State voted to allow judges the right to limit a person’s access to firearms temporarily if a family member or roommate of said person states they are displaying signs of behavioral or mental instability which may lead to a greater chance of them hurting someone including themselves.

• By a very slim margin, Nevada voters chose to require background checks for all sales of firearms.

• Maine was the only state with initiatives regarding gun laws on the ballot that chose not to toughen those laws. 52% of Maine voters chose to allow sales of guns between two parties, even if neither one is a licensed dealer.

• Utah is one of the states with more lenient gun laws and it will likely stay that way a while as nothing was included on the 2016 ballot. Currently Utah does not require background checks for gun purchases, has Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws, as well as allows open carry without a permit as long as firearms are not loaded.

Other noteworthy initiatives

With hundreds of initiatives on the ballots nationwide, there were a few that caught the attention of residents and media nationwide:

Ballot Initiatives

Photo by: michael_swan

• Minimum wage increase. Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington all had initiatives to increase the minimum wage with Arizona and Washington also including paid sick leave for employees. South Dakota tried to decrease the minimum wage for employees under the age of 18 years old but that initiative was highly rejected.

• Assisted suicide. Colorado joined California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington by voting “yes” to allow terminally ill patients of sound mind the right to end their lives by taking lethal drugs prescribed to them by a physician.

• Condoms for porn stars. 54% of California residents voted “no” to requiring actors in porn films to wear condoms during sex scenes. Perhaps the other parts to Proposition 60 that required film producers to obtain a health license and pay for numerous medical necessities of their paid actors is what drove voters to not pass the initiative.

For more information on the initiatives and poll results for the state of Utah, go to electionresults.utah.gov .

Assisted Suicide in Utah

A Logan, Utah man was arrested for reckless endangerment and some weapon charges after he assisted with the suicide of his friend. A 20 year old man dealing with depression accompanied some friends to the home of 48 year old David Schofield and stated that he wanted to end his own life. Schofield handed the young man a gun and told him to pull the trigger. In his despair the 20 year old followed Schofield’s instructions, placed the barrel to his head, and ended his life.

Photo by: Cache County Sheriff Bookings

Photo by: Cache County Sheriff Bookings

Most likely not besties

Had Schofield been the one to pull the trigger his charges would have included homicide. Nevertheless, Schofield was not a murderer by law but just a really bad friend. Had he been a better person entirely, he may have found his depressed comrade some help or counseling. In the end though, he did not force the young man to kill himself, just supplied the weapon. Consequently he is only facing reckless endangerment charges regarding his role in the young man’s death. While assisting suicide for those facing mental illness such as depression should never be an option, what about friends or family members facing terminal illness and pain?

Watching a family member suffer

Last year an elderly man in Roy, Utah took the life of his 70 year old wife whose health had been declining following a stroke. 75 year old Dennis Vance Chamberlain was charged with first degree felony murder for killing his wife in her sleep after authorities found assisted suicide reading material in Chamberlain’s possession. Although it can be difficult to watch a loved one painfully waste away due to cancer or another terminal illness, ending their life for them is against the law and is punishable by a lengthy stay in prison. Besides ending life support for comatose victims, there are currently no laws in place allowing family members to end the suffering of their ailing loved ones. On the other hand, laws allowing doctors to perform assisted suicide are in the works.

Photo by: Derrick Tyson

Photo by: Derrick Tyson

Physician assisted suicide laws

Assisted suicide by a physician is still a touchy subject of debate nationwide. Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and Montana are the only states where assisted suicide by a physician is currently legal. Earlier this year in Utah, HB391 also known as the Death with Dignity Act was brought before lawmakers. This Utah law allowing assisted suicide by physicians is not legal yet and it being widely fought but is still under consideration.

Patient makes ultimate decision

Unlike euthanasia where the doctor is the one administering the lethal medications, assisted suicide by a physician is actually carried out by the patient themselves. The terminally ill patient first puts in a written request for assisted suicide, and then after the doctor has interviewed the patient thoroughly, he prescribes a few different types of medication to be taken together. This deadly cocktail is then available to the patient to take if and when they decide. There is a large opposition regarding this practice and the likelihood that it could glorify suicide in a state with an already high suicide rate. This concern, along with many others is being taken into consideration before HB391 is made lawful.

Dr. Kevorkian’s of Utah

Until Utah’s Death with Dignity Law is passed (if it ever is) it is unlawful for medical personnel to go above the law and prescribe death to their patients in the state of Utah. For Doctors to give their patients the means to end their life early is not a legal resolution yet. For those family members, friends, or physicians who may be facing charges by ending the suffering of the sick or afflicted, call a criminal defense attorney for legal counsel.