Big Funders Need To Act Like Marijuana Legalization Is On The Ballot In Oregon
A few weeks ago, I, along with my close friend and colleague Kaliko Castille, formed Oregonians for Law Reform Political Action Committee to help raise money for Measure 80. M80 would end marijuana prohibition in Oregon for adults over the age of 21.
Unfortunately, if you have heard anything about Measure 80, it's probably that we are far behind the Washington and Colorado amendments in terms of how little money we have in the bank. But I want to take a moment to talk about the things that can still be done without money.
When it comes to the mainstream voting demographics in Oregon, it seems that a large percentage of voters simply don't know that legalization is on the ballot. A recent poll showed that 22% of Oregon voters were undecided in which way they would be voting on the measure. That many undecideds tells us that we have a small time frame in which to jump out in front of these voters to let them know what Measure 80 will do, how it will affect them directly, and why they should vote yes.
Oregon is historically known at the "pioneer state", and Measure 80 is most certainly a pioneer measure. Measure 80 is arguably fighting for more progressive, all-inclusive freedoms than the CO and WA measures. The large funders heavily favor the Colorado and Washington measures because they believe they have the best shot at winning, which at the moment seems to hold some truth. They love those measures, and we do too.
The fact is that we are focused on improving our own state. This is a historic opportunity in Oregon and we're not going to let it fall by the wayside. If we can't get Peter Lewis to give us a million dollars, so what? We've moved on to focus on the things we can control between now and the election and we encourage everyone else who might be bumming about our situation in Oregon to do the same.The campaign in Oregon is by no means a traditional one, but if we can capitalize on three key factors to swing the 22% of undecided voters, Measure 80 has a real shot at passing on November 6th.
#1- Mobilize The College Students
The number one fear Oregonians for Law Reform has is after the election, overhearing someone say something to the effect of "Hey, did you hear that legalization was on the ballot? Too bad it didn't pass and I wasn't registered to vote. I would have totally registered had I known it was up for a vote". Prohibition of marijuana has always had a direct effect on students. Over 200,000 students have been denied financial aid due to having a drug conviction on their record and you can bet that a large number of those charges were marijuana related.
Drug convictions can keep students from obtaining a secondary education. College students recognize that marijuana is clearly a safer choice than alcohol in light of the massive amount of binge drinking they are exposed to on a daily basis. College students in Oregon should be Measure 80-s bread and butter. We must not fail to capitalize on this fact.
#2- Reach out to women.
Historically, women have polled six to ten percentage points behind men in supporting legalization initiatives across the country, however this year we have started to see this gap close significantly. In particular, Washington's I-502 has women and men polling almost identically in support of the measure. Much of this new trends has to do with the spectacular messaging I-502 supporters have been able to get across to the mainstream voters. Instead of talking about how wonderful legalization is, they have focused on how horrible prohibition is.
A mother's first instinct when looking at such a measure isn't to find out how much money it's going to make the state - it's how the new law will better protect her children. Studies continue to show that alcohol and cigarettes are much harder to come by than marijuana simply because they are regulated. Marijuana is regulated by the black market and illicit drug dealers have never and will never ask for identification from their customers. Women played a monumental role in ending prohibition of alcohol in the 20-s, and they are once again playing a major role in ending the prohibition of marijuana in the 21st century. In order to defeat failed prohibitionist laws and policies, turning out the female demographics is key.
#3- Ignore the negatives.
Measure 80 is in a tough position given our current situation, which is why it is more important than ever to focus on the positives and ignore the negatives. Time and time again reporters have asked me about the flaws within Measure 80, and how I think it's been negatively affecting the campaign. The only choice I have is to point out that there has never been what they like to call "a perfect bill" and there never will be.
Sure, there are things that need to be fixed after the measures passes and we are the people who will be front and center down at the capital making sure every hole and flaw is properly addressed and filled. The bottom line is the pros of M80 outweigh the cons by tons. Would you like to continue putting 200 Oregonians in jail every month for marijuana crimes, or would you rather re-allocate law enforcements time towards more pressing issues, such as rape, theft and murder? If you are a medical user, a recreational fan, or you don't use marijuana at all, the answer seems pretty straight forward to me.
So what is it that can you do?
Donate! Money, in-kind contributions, and your time are in heavy demand right now given the small amount of time we have to sway a large amount of undecided voters in Oregon.If you can afford to donate $100, do it. All you have to do is visit www.oregonlawreform.com/donate to make a contribution this very moment.If you can afford to donate your time, email us right now! We need people to phone bank, canvass their neighbors, register people to vote, and attend events around the state to promote Measure 80.
Whether it's money, time and or resources that you contribute to the campaign, it's time to step up to the plate and go to bat for Oregonians who are fed up with the adult prohibition of marijuana.
Follow me on Twitter @SeriouslySamuel
Published with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition