July 16, 2012

Comparing Marijuana Legalization Measures In Oregon, Colorado, And Washington

July 16, 2012
vote for cannabis

vote for marijuanaOregon Joins Colorado and Washington in voting on marijuana legalization this election.

History was made late Friday as the Oregon Secretary of State announced that the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act turned in enough valid signatures to qualify for the 2012 ballot. Oregon joins Washington and Colorado in voting for marijuana legalization this year, the first time in history three U.S. states will put the legalization question to voters.

Beginning with California’s original Prop 19 in 1972 through California’s latest Prop 19 in 2010, every previous attempt to legalize marijuana in America has ended in defeat. In the forty years since that first attempt, there have only been eight statewide legalization measures to make the ballot in just five states (Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, California, and Oregon).

Here is a look at the three legalization measures to be put before the voters in the November 2012 election:

Comparing Oregon, Colorado, & Washington Legalization Measures[i]

StateClick here for more coverage of Oregon
InitiativeOregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA or I-9)Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (A-64 Colorado)New Approach Washington (I-502)
Personal PossessionAllowed, Limit Not Designated[ii]1 ounce in public; all of the cannabis produced from harvests of personal plants at the grow site.1 ounce of cannabis;
16 ounces of solid products (hash, brownies, etc.);
72 ounces of liquid products (tinctures, etc.)
Personal CultivationAllowed, Limit Not Designated6 plants, only 3 in flower.NOT ALLOWED
Age Limit21 Years Old21 Years Old21 Years Old
Public ConsumptionNone except non-minor areas where prominent signs allow it.No “open and public” consumption.None.
DUID StandardCurrent Oregon Law (demonstrated impairment)Current Colorado law (demonstrated impairment)New 5ng THC / mL blood per se DUID; zero-tolerance under age 21.
Regulatory BodyNew Oregon Cannabis Commission (OCC)Colorado Department of RevenueWashington State Liquor Control Board
Hashish / Hash Oil?“Cannabis means all parts, derivatives, or preparations of the cannabis plant.”“Marijuana means… every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, or its seeds, or its resin, including concentrates.”“Marijuana means… every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin.”
Industrial Hemp?[iii]Legalized as any crop, no licenses, fees, or regulation; all seeds & starts are considered hemp.Hemp defined as <0.3% THC cannabis, department shall set hemp regulations.Marijuana defined as >0.3% THC, implying hemp is any cannabis <=0.3% THC and thereby legalized.
Commercial CultivationIndividuals may cultivate for sale to the OCCMarijuana Cultivation FacilitiesMarijuana producer’s license available for cannabis sales to processors[iv]
Commercial ProcessingIndividuals may process cannabis into hash, hash oil, medibles, tinctures, salves, etc. for sale to the OCCMarijuana Product Manufacturing FacilitiesMarijuana processor’s license available for cannabis sales to retailers.
Commercial SalesOCC Cannabis Stores, may limit amounts and frequencyRetail Marijuana StoresMarijuana retailer’s license available for cannabis sales to the public. Can only sell marijuana.
Commercial ZoningNot specified, OCC may set regulationsNot specified, department may set regulations>1000 feet of schools, playgrounds, other locations with minors.
Taxes & FeesNot specified15% excise tax at wholesale level[v] (cultivator to processor or retailer)25% excise tax at each stage of sales (producer to processor to retailer to customer)
Medical MarijuanaOCC Stores sell cannabis at cost to qualifying patients.Act does not apply to medical marijuana, which retains its current regulatory structure.Improves medical marijuana by providing protection from arrest for some possession.[vi]
RestrictionsSale to minors or unlicensed sale forfeits one’s right to buy, sell, or process cannabisLocalities may ban commercial cultivation, processing, retail through their governing body or by ballot initiative only in even-numbered years.[vii]May set maximum number of retail outlets / county. Signage can be no more than 1600 square inches. No advertising near kids.
Fee DistributionAfter OCC / AG costs, 90% to General Fund, 7% to Drug Abuse Treatment, 1% for hemp promotion, 1% hemp biodiesel, 1% to school drug education.First $40M to Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund; remainder to General Fund[viii]Dedicated marijuana fund run by State Liquor Control Board. $125K to Healthy Use Survey; $50K to social and health reports; $5K to UW for web-based marijuana education; $1.5M to State Liquor Control Board; remainder: 15% to drug treatment; 10% for drug education; 1% to state university research; 50% to Washington Health Plan; 5% to community health care; 0.3% to building bridges program; remainder to General Fund.



[i] This table has been updated to better explain the Colorado excise tax (hat tip: Steve Fox of Amendment 64 Campaign).

[ii] OCTA only specifies that commercial cultivation and sales must be licensed by OCC and that personal cultivation and sales need not be licensed. Presumably, you could grow a football field of plants and possess a large Hefty Bag full of pot under OCTA, so long as you sold none of it.

[iii] All hemp production still remains illegal under federal law without a DEA permit.

[iv] I-502 producers and processors may not have a direct or indirect financial interest in retailers.

[v] Colorado’s TABOR requires any tax increase to go before a vote of the people. 15% is merely the maximum authorized wholesale excise tax that the legislature may enact.

[vi] Washington’s medical marijuana law has no registry cards and only an affirmative defense to prosecution. Thus, medical marijuana patients can now be arrested by police, and then they have to provide an affirmative defense to the judge. Under I-502, these patients would now be protected from arrest for 1 ounce of cannabis, 16 ounces of medibles, or 72 ounces of tinctures.

[vii] Updated to clear up confusion that a ballot initiative was the only process by which a locality could ban marijuana business. It is not; localities may ban through their regular local governmental procedures.

[viii] Added — I missed this portion in first reading Colorado’s Amendment.

Article from National Cannabis Coalition and republished with special permission


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