Marijuana legalization in Oregon is overdue. Marijuana should have been legalized in Oregon during the 2012 Election, but due to various reasons, that didn't happen. Had the campaign had more money to work with, Oregon would have legalized. Had the initiative been written better, Oregon would have legalized. Looking back, it was clearly a missed opportunity to have Oregon join Colorado and Washington. If Oregon Measure 80 had received a little over 3 more percentage points on Election Day in 2012, marijuana would have been legalized in Oregon with no limits.
After most national organizations abandoned Oregon's legalization efforts in 2012, they then pressured Oregon activists to wait until 2016 to try again, and all but forbid Oregon activists from trying in 2014. I understand that Presidential Elections are more favorable for marijuana reform initiatives, but Oregon is different. Oregon legalized medical marijuana in 1998, which was not a Presidential Election year. I always attribute it to the fact that Oregon has it's Governor's race in off election years. Also, Oregon is a vote-by-mail state, and as a result we have higher than average turnout during non-Presidential Election years.
I was very excited when I was told that New Approach Oregon was forming, and aiming for the 2014 Election. I have lived my whole life in Oregon, and have seen firsthand the damage that marijuana prohibition has done in my state. While I would like to wait until 2016 when timing is a little better, I have always said we can do this in 2014, and if we already have the support, why wait another two years?
The New Approach Oregon campaign has received a lot of support from the New Approach PAC and the Drug Policy Alliance, which has resulted in donations to the Oregon campaign to the tune of $900,000. That level of support has helped the New Approach Oregon campaign collect a lot of signatures, likely enough signatures to get on the 2014 ballot. Updated signature counts are below (see press release) In order to qualify for the ballot, 87,213 validated signatures are required. The deadline to turn them in is July 3.
A recent poll shows marijuana legalization winning in Oregon 51-41, with the remainder still being undecided. If it makes the ballot and passes, Oregon would have the best marijuana legalization model in the country. Whereas Washington and Colorado allow possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, Oregon would allow 8. Oregon would have slightly less cultivation limits compared to Colorado (4 to 6, respectively), but would have significantly better cultivation limits than Washington, which does not allow legal recreational cultivation. Oregon would not have a per-se marijuana DUII limit.
Oregon was the first state in America to decriminalize marijuana. Oregon was the second state to legalize medical marijuana. Hopefully, Oregon (and Alaska!) becomes the next state to legalize recreational marijuana. If you would like to support New Approach Oregon's campaign, you can find out more information at this link here. Below is a press release from the campaign:
The New Approach Oregon campaign announced today that is has collected 100,000 petition signatures. That's more than the minimum required to qualify a measure for the ballot that would tax, legalize and regulate marijuana use in Oregon.
To qualify, the campaign needs to turn in 87,213 valid signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State by July 3. Only signatures from voters registered in Oregon are considered valid. Volunteers and paid signature gatherers are continuing to collect to ensure the measure qualifies.
The Control, Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act strictly regulates marijuana sales and possession. It legalizes the use of marijuana by adults only and taxes marijuana and its products to generate money for education, public safety, drug treatment and drug prevention.
In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, 10,367 adults were arrested for marijuana in Oregon, according to statistics from the Oregon State Police. That's one person every 51 minutes.
"We need to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on treating marijuana as a crime," said Dan Mahr, New Approach Oregon's campaign manager. "Our country has spent 40 years and more than $1 trillion dollars on the War on Drugs. Prohibition is ineffective and costs the state tax revenue.