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Voters in Washington, D.C. and the northwestern state of Oregon have approved measures to make marijuana legal. The victories for lawful use of the drug were among separate initiatives on ballots throughout the country.

Also Tuesday, voters chose one-third of the Senate and more than half of the nation’s state governors.

Initiatives give voters a chance to decide on issues such as whether governments should borrow money to build roads and schools. They may also offer voters a choice about whether a state should amend its laws on same-sex marriages or ending pregnancies.

Oregon’s measure will permit adults to buy and possess marijuana. Nearby Washington State and Colorado set up similar systems last year.

The initiative in Washington, D.C. -- the United States capital -- lets people age 21 and older possess and grow marijuana. But they cannot buy it. Congress must review the law before it can go into effect.

In the southeastern state of Florida, voters rejected a proposal to make marijuana legal for medical purposes. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 other states.

The ballot in Washington State Tuesday had two competing questions about gun control. Voters approved one measure that will increase required background checks for gun sales. Background checks are meant to prevent people with criminal records from having guns. They will include those done online and at gun shows.

Workers in several states will soon have higher wages. Voters in Nebraska and Arkansas voted to raise the least amount of money a person can earn in one hour. Nebraska workers will get $8 per hour. Arkansas workers will receive $7.50.

I’m Christopher Cruise.

This story was reported by VOA Washington correspondent Chris Hannas. It was written for Learning English by Jeri Watson. Christopher Cruise edited, narrated and produced the program.


Words in This Story

initiative – n. a plan or program that is intended to solve a problem

ballot – n. a ticket or piece of paper used to vote in an election

borrow – v. to take and use up (something) with the promise to give back something of equal value

background – n. the experiences, knowledge and education in a person’s past

wages – n. an amount of money that a worker is paid based on the number of hours and days that are worked

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