The Daily Rundown | November 07, 2012
>>> well, all eyes are focused of the race for white house and senate, voters also decided the fate of more than 175 ballot measures around the country. some of the most closely watched dealt with same-sex marriage, four states voting on whether to legalize or ban it. and history was made last night on that front. nbc news pete williams joins me live from washington. all right, pete. walk me through because there were sort of -- there were sort of negative versions of the same-sex marriage ballot initiative and more affirmative ones. walk me through the four states .
>> you said history was made. it was made in two ways. first of all, two states became the first in america to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote . where in the other states it's been done by the legislature or the courts. now a vote of the people. and the other thing is the marijuana thing. that also made history. let's look at same-sex marriage first. maine and maryland were the first states to approve same-sex marriage. now this brings to eight states the number where same-sex marriage is legal. so maine and maryland legalized same-sex marriage last night. there was a separate referendum in washington state . we don't know the results of that yet. there are still mail in ballots. and the other is minnesota. there was an amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution . that was defeated. but same-sex marriage is still illegal there as a matter of state law . now, on marijuana. two states now have more liberal marijuana laws than any country in the world. colorado and washington state have now legalized recreational --
>> shocking. so seattle and boulder. okay. sorry.
>> they have legalized recreational use of marijuana. this means when this is all set up, you can go to a state licensed store and buy marijuana in the store, a small amount. an ounce and a half or something. and smoke it at home. in colorado you're able to have up to six plants. this was the amendment to legalize marijuana this is recreational marijuana.
>> not medical, right.
>> right. this is colorado and in washington state . now, there was a separate matter to approve recreational use of marijuana as well in oregon. in fact, it was the most liberal. there were no limits in this law. and i think it was simply too liberal for its own good. a couple of other states were voting on medical marijuana , joining the extensive lists of states that approve it. it passed in massachusetts. massachusetts approved medical marijuana . but arkansas said it wasn't ready for that yet. it was defeated in arkansas.
>> two quick questions, pete. is this the last election that we will have same-sex referendum on the ballot? because the supreme court 's going to finally speak on this issue.
>> well, i don't know. i mean, i wouldn't b guarantee that. the supreme court is certainly going to rule this year on the federal law called the defense of marriage act . but we don't know whether the supreme court is also going to take up the prop 8 case in california and depending how they rule on it, it may be good for california only. it may apply nationwide. one other quick one, chuck. california defeated a proposition that would have done away with the death penalty.
>> also the marijuana laws, aren't there federal laws that trump state laws here? how does this work?
>> well, there are federal laws . whether they will trump them in practice, i frankly doubt. i think what's going to happen here is the federal government is going to turn a blind eye to the recreational use of marijuana in these states as long as people don't abuse the state law and have enormous amounts. as a practical matter, federal drug agents don't want to prosecute people for an ounce of marijuana. e spsspecially in a state where they want it to happen. and it's telling that several former drug agents, several former people who ran dea asked the justice department to oppose these measures and it wouldn't.
>> pete williams with all things ballot initiatives and the legalities of them all. thank you, sir.