Last time I checked, we live in a democracy. America is a country where some states have initiatives, and if those initiatives pass on Election Day, they become law. That applies to just about every public policy area, except marijuana policy. During the 2014 Election, voters in Alaska and Oregon passed marijuana legalization initiatives. If the initiatives were for anything else, they would become law with little to no changes, and no one would think twice about it.
However, elected officials in both states are trying to trample on the will of voters by proposing major changes to the initiatives. In Oregon there are several bills in the legislature right now, and with more on the way I'm sure, that will make marijuana legalization virtually unrecognizable compared to the version that voters approved. One bill wants to ban marijuana businesses from existing within 1 mile of a school, which if you looked at home many schools there are in cities and towns in Oregon you would see that it almost creates a ban on marijuana businesses. Another proposal in Oregon's Legislature would eliminate the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, which is something that Oregon Measure 91 specifically stated shouldn't happen. It also sounds like Oregon's Governor wants to lower the possession limits that were approved by voters:
Gov. John Kitzhaber expressed concern Tuesday about how much marijuana Oregonians would be allowed to possess at home under the new legalization measure -- and he indicated that he might ask legislators to seek lower limits.
The governor, saying he has "many concerns" about the initiative approved by voters, questioned the logic of allowing voters to possess up to a half-pound of marijuana at home but just 1 ounce in public.
"The amount you can actually grow in a home-grow operation seems to me to exceed the amount that you're supposed to have legally," Kitzhaber told reporters. "I don't know how you enforce that."
Kitzhaber's thought process doesn't even make sense. So he feels that the amount you can grow will result in there being more marijuana than the household can possess, so he wants to lower the amount the household can possess? Wouldn't it be the other way around if his reefer madness logic was working right? How does he know how much marijuana will be produced by every recreational marijuana plant in the state? I, along with 56% of other Oregon voters, voted 'yes' on Oregon Measure 91 specifically because of how it was worded. I didn't just passively see marijuana legalization was on the ballot so I voted 'yes' blindly, and am willing to live with whatever model Oregon politicians see fit. If that was the case Oregon Measure 80 would have passed in 2012 by a hefty margin, which it didn't.
There are attack bills in Alaska's Legislature too, which led to the Measure 2 campaign releasing the message below:
The legislative session kicked off last week, and already a number of marijuana policy bills have been introduced. There will surely be more to come as lawmakers work to implement Measure 2. Please help us hold legislators accountable in fulfilling the will of the voters --- to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
As an advocate for sensible marijuana policies in Alaska, we need you to reach out to your elected officials. You can follow these bills through the legislative process, and we'll be notifying you of additional opportunities to call and email your legislators, to testify at committee hearings, and to submit comments as needed.
Here are the bills that have been introduced already:
-- SB 8: Regulation and production of industrial hemp (a positive development)
-- SB 30: Removal of full legal protections for possession, production, and sale of marijuana as mandated in Ballot Measure 2 and replacement with mere defenses (a very bad development, against which we are pushing back)
-- HB 59: Prohibition on the production, sale, and possession of marijuana concentrates until November 2016 (also a negative development, as we have let legislators know)
-- HB 75: Technical edits to the initiative language as it relates to municipalities
SB 30, in its current form, is particularly concerning. It strips the initiative of fundamental protections and replaces them with mere defenses that would still require time in court and costly law enforcement resources. Please call your legislator immediately and politely let them know that the current draft of SB 30 fundamentally undermines the will of the voters.
If you haven't already, please 'like' the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Facebook. Thank you for your support!
Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
If Oregon's and Alaska's politicians wanted to impose their own versions of marijuana legalization on voters, they had more than enough time to do so prior to the 2014 Election. In the case of Oregon, we specifically brought a proposal to the Oregon Legislature and they scoffed and chose to do nothing with our proposal. We specifically told them that if they failed to act, we would take our proposal to the ballot via an initiative. That's what we ended up doing, and we were successful, so why only now are they scrambling to make changes and basically are trying to throw the successful initiative in the garbage and re-write it as they see fit? Please contact your elected officials in both states and let them know that this is unacceptable, and to respect the will of the voters.