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.
Homeowners’ associations cannot legally ban their members from using marijuana in their homes in states where it is legal to do so, but some HOAs are attempting to do just that, claiming that marijuana use is a nuisance, reports the Gazette. If people can see or smell their neighbor using or growing marijuana, their HOA has the right to regulate it as a nuisance or child risk. Richard Thompson, who runs a management company that concentrates in homeowner associations in Portland, related these regulations to others made in Oregon. “The fact that people may be legally entitled to smoke doesn’t mean they can do it wherever they want, any more than they could walk into a restaurant and light up a cigarette.”
According to Thompson, neighbor conflicts have increased with regards to marijuana use recently. More marijuana users keep their windows open and smoke outside during spring and summer months, prompting many complaints from neighbors. A Brighton, Colorado resident recently discovered this after he planted a hemp plot. The homeowners’ association took issue with this and ordered him to get rid of it or face a fine. Though he tried to explain that hemp was not marijuana, he was still turned down. He then sold his plants to hemp activists rather than throwing them out. The activists offered to pay his homeowner fines instead, but the resident opted to live peacefully with his neighbors. He said, “I had people calling up and saying, ‘It’s just a shame; we’ll pay your fines all the way through to the end.’ But I decided in the end not to fight it. At the end of the day, I live here.”
New Approach Oregon’s petition to make marijuana legal for adults has qualified for the ballot this coming November, Huffington Post reports. More than 87,000 valid signatures were collected for the petition, which allows adults age 21 and older in Oregon to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana privately and one ounce in public and would have the marijuana market regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Any sales taxes collected would be distributed to schools, law enforcement, and drug prevention programs.
It is very likely that this initiative will pass in November, with a recent poll stating that 57% of Oregon’s likely voters support making marijuana legal for adults. A similar measure was nearly approved in 2012. In addition, the governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, has stated that he would uphold the will of the people if the bill makes it to his desk. In January, he commented on Colorado and Washington, “I hear the drumbeats from Washington and Colorado.” He said, “I want to make sure we have a thoughtful regulatory system. The legislature would be the right place to craft that.”
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.