A ballot initiative in Oregon is gaining support and local marijuana policy reform advocates describe it as their “number one priority,” the Oregonian reports. New Approach Oregon is working in conjunction with Drug Policy Alliance and others to raise awareness of their campaign to pass the ballot initiative, which would allow adults to possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana. Oregon’s Liquor Control Commission would regulate and oversee the market. Dave Kopilak, an attorney who helped to draft New Approach Oregon’s initiative, claims that if it is passed, Oregon will have lower taxes on marijuana than Washington or Colorado.
Revenue generated by the adult retail market that went to the state would be distributed to a variety of public health and safety programs: 40% would go to the common school fund, 20% to mental health and addiction services, 15% to state police, 10% to cities’ law enforcement, an additional 10% to local county law enforcement, and 5% to drug abuse prevention services. If it qualifies for the ballot, the initiative will be up for a vote in November.
The movement to make Oregon one of the next states to make marijuana legal got a major boost Wednesday when the petition to put the question on the ballot received 100,000 signatures, reports Gant Daily.The measure is backed by New Approach Oregon (NAO), which reported the collected signatures exceeded the minimum 87,213 required to qualify for the ballot on Monday. The ballot initiative, called the Control, Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act, would strictly regulate marijuana sales and possession for adults over 21 years old. If passed, it would allow for possession of up to eight ounces and growing up to four plants. Sales of marijuana would be taxed at $35 an ounce and $5 per plant.
The ACLU of Oregon has thrown its support behind the petition. Their executive director, David Fidanque, commented, “We need to stop wasting taxpayer dollars arresting and searching people in Oregon just because they use marijuana. Prohibition hasn’t worked and it never will. It’s time to be honest about that and take a path that makes sense.” This was in response to a recent ACLU report, which claimed that Oregon’s law enforcement had stepped up its marijuana citations and arrests by 45% since 2001. This was the fifth highest in the nation. The NAO believes this endorsement will help them to get the ballot initiative passed in November.
Facing a reelection race in Oregon this fall, Portland Rep. Earl Blumenauer aired a television ad on April 25 focusing on marijuana legalization. Blumenauer’s heavily Democratic district lends him an easy reelection, but that hasn’t diluted his fervor to advocate for his signature issue.
In the ad, Blumenauer points out how “our marijuana laws don’t work and cost the government billions.” Later, he calls for the federal government to “let states set their own laws — tax it, use the money to fund education and let the police focus on real drug abuse.”
It is unclear how many ads he plans to run, but Blumenauer said he plans to spend six figures on campaign advertising that will broadcast not only in Oregon, but online and in other states, drawing national attention to the issue.
Blumenauer said the purpose of his ad isn’t just about reelection — it’s about transparency and letting his constituents know what he is doing in Congress. In a response to releasing the ad, Blumenauer told The Oregonian that, while he appreciates letting the states move forward on marijuana laws, the Obama administration is doing the “absolute least the federal government can do.”
Last week, the Oregon Senate unanimously approved legislation to allow local governments to enact reasonable restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries. As passed by the Senate, SB 1531 would allow municipalities to develop rules about where, when, and how dispensaries can operate. Unfortunately, the bill was amended to allow municipalities to completely ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
The Oregon legislature passed a bill creating a regulated medical marijuana dispensary program last year. The legislation required the state health authority to create thorough regulations dispensaries must adhere to. These regulations ensure the dispensaries are run responsibly. There is no reason to deny patients access to their medicine simply because of where they happen to live. If you are an Oregon resident, please ask your representative to oppose this unnecessary proposal.
Regulated medical marijuana dispensaries are no more harmful to a neighborhood than a coffee shop. It makes little sense to allow cities to ban them completely when they provide a necessary service to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
Late last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 to advance a proposal that would put an initiative on November’s ballot asking if marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. The vote means the proposal made it past the first committee deadline. The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee. If you are an Oregon resident, please email your lawmakers today and ask them to support this sensible idea.
The bill, SB 1556, would ask voters in November if adults 21 and older should be allowed to legally use, possess, and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. It would also task the Oregon Legislature with deciding how best to regulate commercial production and retail sales of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Even lawmakers who oppose the idea of treating marijuana like alcohol can support the idea of giving their constituents the ability to vote on the proposal themselves, so please ask your lawmakers to vote “yes” on SB 1556 today.
If Governor Kitzhaber can hear the “drumbeats [of inevitable marijuana policy reform] from Washington and Colorado,” so can Oregon lawmakers.