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Oregon to vote on legalizing marijuana

On Nov. 6, Oregonians can vote on Ballot Measure 80, which proposes the legalization of marijuana

Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012

Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 19:10

Ballot 80

Graphic by Emily Strocher | THE BEACON

Ballot 80

It goes by many names: cannabis, ganja, marijuana, sticky icky, hemp, pot, weed, dope, but whatever you call it, it may become legal to use in Oregon if you’re over 21.

When Oregonians vote on Nov. 6 for president, they will also have a chance to vote on Ballot Measure 80, better known as the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), which would legalize the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of all marijuana and hemp product in Oregon for adults over 21.

If passed, Measure 80 would establish a new commission to be run by marijuana growers and processors, that would regulate the use of cannabis in a similar manner that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) regulates the sale of alcohol. But unlike the OLCC, the commission would be majority controlled by members of the cannabis growing community, not state officials.

A SurveyUSA poll conducted for KATU News in early Sept. showed only 37 percent in favor of the measure, with 41 percent opposed. However, 22 percent reported uncertain, so the fate of the measure remains unpredictable.

Paul Stanford, founder of the OCTA 2012 campaign, one of the primary supporters of the measure, sees the act as a great way to free up space in the penal system and claims it could save the Oregon criminal justice system upwards of $61.5 million.

“We have more people in prison than at any other time, most of those people are in prison for drug related crimes, and most of the people in prison for drugs are in prison for marijuana,” Stanford said.

Stanford also thinks hemp could provide a great boost to the economy, and thinks that marijuana as a drug has been used as a scapegoat to shift the focus away from the practical uses of hemp.

“It has more food, fuel, and medicine than any other plant,” said Stanford.

Stanford hopes that Oregon can generate revenue by taxing marijuana as well.

Tom Parker, director of communications for Lines of a Life, a substance abuse hotline and preventative organization, said the measure is flawed, especially in how it deals with youth. Measure 80 legalizes marijuana for adults only over 21, but Parker points to alcohol consumption among minors as proof of laws being unable to keep substances away from younger users.

Parker said that continued, persistent use of marijuana has been proven to correlate with I.Q. drops in youth over the long term.

“It’s simple facts. It’s a period of time when the brain is still developing,” Parker said.

Parker says his organization also worries about a rise in persistent use, as legalizing marijuana would likely lower its cost.

“If you lower the price, you’ll get more use,” he said.

Stanford acknowledges that youth drug use is dangerous, but says that it is already prevalent.

“Drug dealers don’t ask for I.D. Prohibition doesn’t work – education and taxation are the best way to handle kids using drugs,” said Stanford.

Oregon first banned marijuana in 1935. The debate seemed settled until the 1970s, when Oregon became the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973. Decriminalization removes the legal consequences such as felony or misdemeanor. After this, possession of marijuana not exceeding 28.35 grams was punishable only by fines. In 1998, Oregon took a step further by becoming the second state, after California, to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

To date, no state has fully legalized marijuana. If any state does make marijuana legal, it would bring up legal questions as cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, which supersedes state law. Because of this, the practical effects of the act have been called into question.

Stanford hopes this measure will spark a national debate. Oregon is not the only state this year with a ballot measure proposing legalizing marijuana. Colorado and Washington are also voting on the issue.

“If one, two, or all three of the states vote to legalize, it’ll be a transformative moment,” Stanford says.

He says the Oregon measure has been written explicitly for challenge in federal court, and that he expects that should the measure pass, that is where it will end up. Stanford cites the Death with Dignity Act, a law Oregon passed in 1994 legalizing euthanasia that resulted in a Supreme Court decision upholding the act and altering federal law 12 years later.

On campus, students see the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana.

Sophomore Nate Chatterton, who suffers from Tourette’s syndrome and ankylosing spondylitis – a form of spinal arthritis – uses marijuana to reduce pain. He has a medical marijuana card issued to him in both Oregon and Washington, but hopes the measure will pass.

“Honestly, it’s a plant. People should just use it wisely like they do with alcohol,” Chatterton said.

Sophomore Lauren Anneberg thinks that the measure is a good idea because it will generate tax revenue.

“I’m pro legalizing it, I’m not a smoker, but I think it’s a smart choice to legalize it for economic reasons,” she said.

Anneberg doesn’t see a lot of new smokers coming out if marijuana becomes legal.

“I think it’s more of a moral issue than a legal one. If they were going to smoke, they would be already,” she said.


“The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act”

Ballot Measure 80 proposes the legalization of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana. Also proposes the creation of a commission run by marijuana growers and processors to regulate the use of cannabis in Oregon. Marijuana would be legal to use for people over 21.


Mon Oct 15 2012 13:13
HEMP is an incredibly lucrative agricultural product that can be utilized to grow Oregon's food, textiles and renewable energy industries. For this reason alone, creating thousands of GREEN JOBS, supporting Measure-80 makes (dollars and) sense. I use the products all the time. HEMP seed cereal, milk and protein powder. I wear HEMP clothing as well as organic cotton. It is said that HEMP lumber is far superior than it's timber counterpart because the HEMP fibers are 4-6 inches in length where as the timber are only 1-2 inches assuring a greater bind and stronger product. For anyone interested in getting the renewable energy sector off the ground HEMP produces very sufficient oil for biofuels. All this is in alignment with Portland's' interests in being on the leading edge of the country in sustainability issues. Legalizing HEMP is not only moving Oregon forward for a GREENer future it's creating JOBS that would restore Oregon's BOOMing lumber industry from the early to mid 1900's.
As far as using cannabis for recreational purposes, this issues requires more education about what responsible use is. Perhaps a closer look at Amsterdam Holland would be a resource for the legal use of marijuana in society. In fact, they have less teenagers who use marijuana than the US currantly does with it being illegal. Again, education is paramount to the success of ending the prohibition of marijuana and HEMP in Oregon.
Sat Oct 13 2012 03:21
Studies have shown that expanded availability and perceived social acceptance will increase marijuana use among youth. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-the main active ingredient in marijuana) impairs the
Oregon currently has the nation's third highest rate of marijuana use among youth, ages 12 - 17.

The percentage of kids in drug counseling for marijuana addiction has been increasing annually, and the resulting
negative effects place both our youth's development and our future workforce at risk. With Measure 80, increased
availability and use by youth will increase addiction. With Measure 80 our public schools will be required to educate our children and grandchildren on how to use marijuana responsibly. This certainly is not a function of our public schools.

According to Dr. Kevin Sabet the financial benefits of marijuana legalization would never outweigh its social and health related costs. Promising everything from increased tax revenue and a cure for cancer, to a reduction of violence near the Mexican border and fewer criminal justice costs, legalization advocates have convinced almost half of America that their policy of choice is inevitable and desirable. But their arguments are high on hyperbole and low on facts. Rarely discussed are the potential downsides of such a policy, ranging from increased addiction to greater health and criminal justice costs. In fact, both of our already legal drugs-alcohol and tobacco-offer chilling illustrations of how an open market fuels greater harms. They are cheap and easy to obtain. Commercialization glamorizes their use and furthers their social acceptance. High profits make aggressive marketing worthwhile for sellers. Addiction is simply the price of doing business. Would marijuana use rise in a legal market for the drug? Admittedly, marijuana is not very difficult to obtain currently, but a legal market would make getting the drug that much easier. Tobacco and alcohol are used regularly by 30% and 65% of the population, respectively, while all illegal drugs combined are used by about 8% of Americans.

Why is Kevin A. Sabet Against the Legalization of Marijuana?

Vote NO on Measure 80

Fri Oct 12 2012 09:28
We are Americans..we live in a free country...this is what we have been told since birth.

The prohibition of marijuana is a farce. It is the few telling the many what they may and may not do. We are a free people. It is time to start living the way our forefathers intended.

Law enforcement needs to re-direct its focus on those that are REAL crimes.

I was in Federal Prison for 5 years for a marijuana offense. No, it was not for simple possession. I was arrested aboard a Lockheed PV2 in Marianna, Florida...charged and convicted for conspiracy to import and distribute 12,000 pounds of marijuana.

At the time, I really had no idea what I had gotten myself into...mine was an offense involving pot...the thought never occurred to me that I may actually spend years in prison for that 'indiscretion.'

As my years in prison rolled by, what I did see were armed bank robbers, coming and going...while I still sat there for marijuana. Most of the bank robbers only spent 17 to 24 months. But, I and my fellow 'drug offenders,'...we stayed for YEARS.

I wrote about the escapades that led to my incarceration. I admit, I had a great time. No one was injured, no one was killed, firearms were not involved...there were no victims.

We were Americans...doing what Americans do free.

Truly, it is time for this lunacy to never should have begun.

My book: Shoulda Robbed a Bank
It is about living free.

Fri Oct 12 2012 03:02
Marijuana prohibition has failed to reach any of the goals it was intended to deliver. This should not come as a surprise. Prohibition doesn't work. Regulation does.

By supporting Measure 80 and putting in place some common-sense marijuana regulation, we will:

- Deliver a safer Oregon

- Build a more economically vibrant Oregon

- Lead the way for the rest of the nation, as Oregon has done time and again

A Safer Oregon: More resources. Better public safety. Effective oversight.

Moving from wasteful prohibition to effective regulation would save American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually, including more than $60 million every year here in Oregon. Think about it; $60 million a year for Oregon's public-safety agencies to focus on keeping communities safe and violent offenders behind bars, rather than wasting resources on nonviolent marijuana arrests and being forced to free criminals due to overcrowding prisons.

As a general rule, prohibition makes effective control impossible. Prohibit something and what happens? You make it more appealing. You drive the behavior underground or into the black market. And you give up any hope of regulating and influencing the issue. We've seen this before. The federal government's prohibition of liquor in the 1920s fueled the rise of organized crime, while criminalizing average men and women who chose to produce or consume alcohol.

Similarly, our nation's continued, counterproductive prohibition of cannabis since the 1930s has fueled the rise of drug cartels and the expansion of America's prison system, while criminalizing average men and women who chose to produce or consume cannabis.

The fact is that regulation makes industries, products and services safer. Whether it's food or medicine or automobiles, we regulate industries to ensure quality, safety and ingredients. Why should it be any different with a plant like cannabis? Under taxation and regulation, cannabis producers and resellers would be licensed and zoned accordingly, and would have strong incentives to obey licensing rules.

A More Economically Vibrant Oregon

Oregon's craft beer industry is worth billions of dollars every year. So is our wine industry. Both beer and wine are products available only to adults, and both beer and wine are heavily regulated, taxed and monitored. And still, these two industries alone create thousands of jobs across our state, from rural farm jobs to urban office jobs.

A regulated marijuana and agricultural hemp industry in Oregon will similarly create thousands of jobs across the state. And, because UFCW Local 555, Oregon's largest private-sector labor union, is supporting Measure 80, we know those new jobs will be living-wage, sustainable careers for men and women from Prineville to Pendleton.

A recent financial impact assessment by the government of the State of Washington estimates that marijuana legalized regulation could bring in as much as $2 billion over the next five years in that state. We believe Oregon has at least that much potential.

Leading the Way for the Nation

From our public lands access to our Bottle Bill, from urban-growth boundaries to the Oregon Health Plan, Oregonians have a tradition of doing things differently and setting an example for states around the nation.

By passing Measure 80, you are showing voters in other states that, no matter how long prohibition has been destroying lives and strangling our economy, it's not too late to change it. Alongside similar efforts in Washington and Colorado, Oregon's Measure 80 is a chance to make history and vote for common-sense solutions at the same time.

Thu Oct 11 2012 23:29
M8O would put Oregon out of compliance with the federal Drug Free Workplace Act, according to research done by the California Chambers of Commerce. Oregon could lose millions annually in federal aid and grants affecting schools, businesses and government contracts.

M8O would permit the forming of a new 7 member State Agency designed to cultivate and sell marijuana in government operated stores throughout Oregon, with 5 of those seven members being elected solely by marijuana growers and processors

Under M8O, Oregonians will see more Driving under the Influence of marijuana accidents, as where alcohol has an impairment BAC level, there is no defined THC impairment level in Measure 80.

Studies have shown that expanded availability and perceived social acceptance will increase marijuana use among youth. Oregon currently has the nation's third highest rate of marijuana use among youth, ages 12 - 17.5

Mexican cartels are not in Oregon because their customer base is in Oregon they are in Oregon for the growing season. The cartels don't work in a vacuum or on a market price theory. They go where they can grow it and distribute nation-wide where they can sell it.

M8O would allow anyone 21 to grow marijuana anywhere - in a vacant lot near a school yard or in a house next door to you. A user could grow football fields of marijuana without any restrictions for personal use. With Measure 80 kids will be able to get it free from the new black market that will be created by all those 21 years and over, who will be allowed to grow unlimited amounts of marijuana. You call this regulation, this is a new unregulated black market that will grow, sell, and undercut the government pot store prices, as well as sell to other states illegally.

How else do you think kids get booze and cigarettes that are underage?

Black-market cigarettes costing NY $20M a month

M8O prohibits any regulations and fees to grow Hemp with undefined THC levels, which is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana, posing the possibility that thousands of acres of rural farmland across Oregon could be bought up for the sole purpose of growing marijuana and hemp. Federal law currently prohibits the growth of hemp. Because the Hemp seeds would not be regulated seeds and starter plants could virtually be available at your local garden and plant nurseries, therefore leaving the door open for anyone to purchase including youth.

The claim that millions will be gained from taxes is fantasy. It's called "weed" for a reason: It is very easy to grow - in basements, homes, forests, and often with very little gardening. Since federal law trumps state law, it defies logic to think that someone would expose themselves to federal prosecution in order to be taxed for committing a federal crime.

Marijuana still remains illegal under federal law. Thus, any locally imposed taxes are legally uncollectible because, according to case law, no one can be compelled to pay a tax that might subject them to prosecution by the federal government.

With the support of Oregon's District Attorneys, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, a personal use quantity, has not been a crime under Oregon law for nearly 40 years. No jail, no criminal record, and only the possibility of a fine. Even people convicted of possessing much larger amounts of marijuana get probation. No one is in an Oregon prison for simple possession of marijuana.

It is a NO for Measure 80.

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