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."
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.
On Monday, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed into law two bills that make sensible changes to Oregon’s marijuana laws. These new laws, which took effect immediately, reduce the severity of the punishment for certain marijuana crimes.
SB 40 reduces penalties for possession of more than an ounce of marijuana. SB 40 reduces the criminal penalty for possession of more than four ounces of marijuana from a class B felony, which carries up to 10 years in prison, to a class C felony, which has a maximum sentence of five years in prison. It reclassifies possession of one to four ounces of marijuana from a class B felony to a class B misdemeanor — reducing the maximum sentence from 10 years to six months. It also reduces the penalty for unlawful manufacture of marijuana from a class A felony to a class B felony — reducing the maximum prison term from 20 years to 10.
SB 82 eliminates a penalty for possession of under an ounce of marijuana, which is already a civil violation. The bill eliminates a section of law that forced courts to suspend the driving privileges of people found in possession of under an ounce of marijuana unless there were compelling circumstances not to. Please note that absent compelling circumstances, courts must still revoke the driving privileges of an individual found in possession of an ounce or more of marijuana.
On June 25, the Oregon Legislature sent two bills that would make sensible changes to Oregon’s marijuana laws to Gov. Kitzhaber for his approval. If enacted, these proposals would reduce the severity of the punishment for certain marijuana crimes. SB 40 would reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana. Possession of under an ounce of marijuana is currently punished by a civil violation. This bill reduces the criminal penalty for possession of between one and four ounces, as well as the penalty for possession of more than four ounces. If you are an Oregon resident, please ask the governor to support these reasonable changes. SB 82 would eliminate the requirement to suspend a person’s driver’s license if he or she is found in possession of under an ounce of marijuana. Possession of under an ounce is not a criminal act in Oregon; it makes no sense to add draconian measures like suspension of driving privileges for the non-violent act of simple possession. Urge Gov. Kitzhaber to end this heavy-handed practice.
On Thursday, in a 36-21 vote, Oregon lawmakers approved a bill that would allow individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to register for medical marijuana cards.
Currently, Oregon’s medical marijuana program only permits patients with certain debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and Alzheimer's disease to register. Senate Bill 281 would add PTSD to this list.
According to the National Center for PTSD, approximately 5.2 million adults in the nation suffer from the anxiety disorder during a given year.
Rep. John Lively (D-Springfield) revealed that he personally suffered from PTSD; he also has family and friends with the anxiety disorder. Rep. Lively’s fellow lawmaker Rep. Jim Weidner (R-Yamhill) stated that his son, who served in Iraq, had three friends who committed suicide.
The bill now heads to Gov. John Kitzhaber for approval.
MPP supports the state’s effort to help veterans and others trying to cope with PTSD and hopes Gov. Kitzhaber will make Senate Bill 281 a reality so that patients and their doctors have the opportunity to decide what treatment works for them.
In a live televised debate Wednesday night between Oregon’s two Democratic candidates for governor, one — former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury — said he thinks “it might be” a good idea to legalize and tax marijuana like we do alcohol. While his complete statement didn’t come off as a whole-hearted endorsement for marijuana policy reform, Bradbury’s answer was much more promising than that of his opponent, former Gov. John Kitzhaber, who said plainly, “I do not support legalizing marijuana or taxing it as a form of income to support schools and other important public services.”
Both candidates said they supported measures that would add dispensaries to Oregon’s medical marijuana law.
Here is Bradbury’s entire answer to the question of whether it would be “a good idea” to tax marijuana like alcohol:
“It might be. But you know, I have a feeling the federal government would pretty quickly step in and say, ‘Sorry, you can’t do that.’ […] I’ve got to tell you, I just don’t think that’s a very realistic solution to the significant revenue problem the state of Oregon is currently facing.”
You can watch a clip of both candidates’ responses by scrolling down on this link. The exchange about marijuana policy occurs in the third video, with about 5:13 remaining.