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Midterm voters decide on pot, guns, wages

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NEW YORK >> The marijuana-legalization movement, which achieved historic victories two years ago, seeks further momentum Tuesday as voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., weigh in on ballot measures that would allow recreational use of pot by adults.

Other volatile issues on state ballots include gambling and abortion. A measure in Maine would ban the use of dogs, bait and traps for bear hunting, while two competing measures in Washington state give voters a choice on whether to expand background checks for gun sales.

In the 2012 general election, Washington state and Colorado became the first states to legalize marijuana use by adults, and they have subsequently implemented systems for regulating and taxing sales of pot.

The measures in Oregon and Alaska would likewise legalize retail sales of marijuana to anyone old enough to drink.

The measure in Washington, D.C., would make it legal to grow and possess marijuana, but not sell it. The campaign there has included a debate about race — the measure’s supporters say blacks in the city have been disproportionately targeted for marijuana arrests.

Florida voters will decide whether to make their state the 24th to allow marijuana use for medical reasons. The measure needs 60 percent approval to pass.

Whatever the outcome Tuesday, advocates of marijuana legalization already are planning to expand their campaign to California, the most populous state, in 2016.

Some of the other questions before voters Tuesday:

ABORTION

In three states, abortion-related measures have generated bitter debate, in part because supporters and opponents disagree over their potential impact.

In Colorado, a "personhood" amendment would add fetuses to those protected by the state’s criminal and wrongful death act. Opponents say it could lead to a ban on abortions; supporters say it’s intended to strengthen protections for pregnant women.

In North Dakota, Measure 1 would provide "the inalienable right to life" for humans at "any stage of development." Supporters and opponents differ on what impact it might have on abortion regulations.

A measure in Tennessee would give state legislators more power to regulate abortion. Supporters say the proposed amendment is needed to prevent the courts from quashing reasonable restrictions; opponents fear it would lead to tough new laws that would jeopardize women’s access to abortions.

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