Over the weekend, one of the most popular newspapers in Oregon lent its support to Measure 91, which would make marijuana legal for adults in the state. Voters will decide on the initiative in November.
Measure 91 would move Oregon from a hazy condition of almost-legalization to one of rational access guided by straightforward regulations and subject to sensible taxation. In other words, it would force Oregon’s 16-year-old marijuana experiment out of adolescence and into legal adulthood. The measure appropriately leaves the task of regulating the new industry to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which knows a thing or two about the distribution and sale of intoxicants. The OLCC would adopt the necessary rules by 2016.
Measure 91, far from revolutionary, would simply allow Oregon adults to obtain something they may obtain now, but without having to stroll through a “medical” loophole or drive over a bridge to a neighboring state. The measure would be worth supporting for reasons of honesty and convenience alone, but it also would raise millions of dollars per year for schools and other purposes. For that reason, it deserves support even from those who aren’t normally high on taxes.
While we would not characterize the Oregon medical marijuana program as anything other than a success that has provided thousands of patients out of jail, this is certainly a strong statement of support that will hopefully be heeded by voters in November.
Proponents of Measure 91, which would make marijuana legal for adults in Oregon and regulate cultivation and retail sales, are up in arms at the discovery that federal funds are being used to bring drug warrior Kevin Sabet and company to their state to fight against the initiative.
While being billed as nothing more than an educational tour, the two-day conference in Oregon will spend at least half that time focusing on marijuana and providing law enforcement and other prohibitionists with tools to use against the Measure 91 campaign. The tour is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. According to the Willamette Week, the event will also be spearheaded by Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis, who says the “Oregon District Attorneys Association plans to invest in the No on 91 campaign…”
[Anthony] Johnson, the chief petitioner for Yes on 91, says the tour appears to skirt campaign finance law, if not outright break it.
“It’s a misuse of federal taxpayer dollars to campaign against a state ballot measure days before people start voting on it,” he tells WW. “Calling this an ‘education campaign’ is preposterous, and if it is legal, it shouldn’t be.”
MPP has long contended that public funds should never be used to campaign against legislation and ballot initiatives, including the use of on-duty law enforcement. Such behavior is a violation, in spirit if not in law, of the democratic process.
As the Aug. 26 Vermont primary election approaches, it’s clear that momentum for ending marijuana prohibition in Vermont continues to build. Governor Shumlin’s administration is currently working with the Rand Corporation to study the potential impacts of marijuana regulation, and many legislators are already convinced that marijuana should be treated similarly to alcohol.
Voting for favorable candidates is one important way to advance the issue, but we know that supporting good candidates is rarely enough to create real change on its own. We understand that it will take an organized, statewide effort to build support for this reform.
Perhaps the most glaring flaw of the legislation was ceding regulatory power to the Department of Consumer Protection, an agency that never expressed any interest in being entrusted with this important task. In fact, the department failed to take part in a single stakeholder meeting. While we are certainly disappointed that the legislature failed to pass a regulatory bill, we are relieved that they did not pass one that would have caused more harm than good.