Oregon was one of three states to vote on marijuana legalization in 2012. Unfortunately for my home state, it was the only one of the three to fail. The two biggest factors that led to the fail were a lack of funding and that the initiative was poorly written. Despite those two factors, marijuana legalization was within reach. Had national donors supported Oregon’s legalization efforts as they did in Washington and Colorado, there would be three states with legal marijuana on the books. Or, if the initiative had been written with reasonable limits, despite a lack of funding, I’m confident the initiative would have passed.
Fortunately for Oregon, voters will likely get another chance to vote on marijuana legalization this November. The New Approach Oregon campaign has national funders unlike the 2012 effort, and has reasonable limits written into the initiative. Polling was just released by Survey USA which shows marijuana legalization winning 51% to 41%, with 8% of voters undecided. It’s worth noting that there are three initiatives currently gathering signatures, and the survey did not ask people to differential between the three.
Males support marijuana legalization in Oregon far more than women. 57% of males support marijuana legalization in Oregon, compared to only 44% of women. 47% of women oppose marijuana legalization in Oregon, which is hopefully where a lot of effort is going to be targeted by campaigns. Younger voters (18-34) showed overwhelming support, with 70% of the age group saying they support legalization. Compare that to senior citizens, who only had 34% support. This is another group that I hope the campaigns focus on. In an ideal world, New Approach Oregon would hire Robert Platshorn of ‘The Silver Tour’ to tour around the state talking at senior centers, which I think would help out a lot.
There were many national organizations that said behind closed doors that they would not support Oregon if it decided to not wait until 2016. If/When Oregon legalizes marijuana in 2014, I hope these organizations realize what I’ve always said – Oregon is different than other states. For example, 2014 is going to see a hotly contested Governor race, and I expect voter turnout to be higher than other states for the mid-term election as a result.