In Oregon, pro-marijuana advocates have been working tirelessly for months, spreading word about the benefits that may come from legalizing cannabis, and yesterday it all came to fruition. The war on marijuana has been going strong since the mid 1930’s, but the everyone on the Measure 91 team, from the big names, familiar faces, and law enforcement officers all the way down to the foot soldiers, may finally rest easy today knowing that they have been triumphant. Yesterday, voters elected Oregon to be the third of the United States to legalize the recreational use and retail sale of marijuana. Congratulations, Oregon!
What exactly does this mean for residents of Oregon?
Although, Measure 91, also known as the Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act of 2014, may not legalize cannabis as an import or export crop for the state of Oregon, it does allow for recreational use by residents and retail sale of marijuana by licensed dispensaries within the state. Adults aged twenty-one years or older, will be permitted to possess up to eight ounces of dried marijuana flowers, and to cultivate up to four marijuana plants in a private residence. Under this measure, the retail sale of cannabis will be regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The state medical marijuana laws will remain unchanged.
This is only the beginning of a lengthy process for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the residents of Oregon. Measure 91 may have been approved by voters in November 2014, but it does not take effect until July 1, 2015. It is unlikely that retail marijuana dispensaries will be ready to open that day because the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has until the beginning of 2016 to issue business licenses. However, the OLCC may start drafting regulations, and accepting applications as soon as they are ready.
Congratulations are in order for the farmers of Oregon, as well, because under Measure 91, cultivating industrial hemp is also legalized!
photo credit: Oregonlive
Voters in Oregon may quite possibly make history today by becoming the third of the United States to legalize marijuana. On the ballot, Measure 91, also known as the Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act of 2014, will allow adults aged twenty-one years or older to possess up to eight ounces of dried marijuana flowers and up to four marijuana plants. Under this measure, the retail sale of cannabis will be regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The state medical marijuana laws will remain unchanged.
Support for what has been referred to as “the most regulated and strict marijuana measure ever voted upon in Oregon,” has been steady throughout the polling season, but in recent days it has increased. The most recent poll by Survey USA was released on October 28. It shows a majority of voters approve of the marijuana legalization initiative in the state. This poll shows fifty-two percent of all surveyed support voting yes on Measure 91, and this is the number advocates hope will show true at the end of the election day.
The graph above depicts results from three different polls by Survey USA, and includes the most recent results that are written in the paragraph above. The far left on the graph shows results from poll released September 25, where voter approval of legalizing marijuana was only at forty-four percent. The middle number, showing a forty-eight percent approval for Measure 91 from likely voters, was released October 20. In about one month, voter approval increased four percent. The numbers on the far right are from the most recent poll, released October 28. Just eight days later, approval increased to fifty-two percent.
The likelihood of this marijuana law reform initiative being passed by voters increases with the number of votes being cast. Want to help the cause?
Send your friends in Oregon a friendly reminder to vote, no matter which side of the fence they are on, using a Facebook App. First, find out if your registered friends in Oregon have already voted by going to DidTheyVoteYet.Org. The app can be downloaded through that site, and it will search your Facebook friends for you. It will populate a list of your friends who have not yet cast a ballot, and then you can call and text them until they exercise their American right to vote. As the Measure 91 initiative pointed out, marijuana cannot legalize itself.
photo credit: ABC News, Survey USA
Last week, nationally recognized public and drug policy expert, Mark Kleiman, wrote a blog post supporting marijuana legalization efforts in the state of Oregon. Harvard graduate, Kleiman is a Professor of Public Policy at UCLA and Chairman of Botec Analysis Corporation. Botec is the company responsible for helping to develop the legal marijuana policy in the state of Washington. Now, Kleiman publicly announces that he also supports the legalization measure in Oregon.
Kleiman’s endorsement of the measure does not come without a few criticisms examining all worst case scenarios. His analysis of the worst case scenarios and how it is not bad enough to say no, is why he chose to publicly state that he would vote yes to measure 91. In the blog post he wrote, “the choice Oregon voters face isn’t between what’s on the ballot and some perfectly designed cannabis policy; it’s between what’s on the ballot and continued prohibition at the state level, until and unless a better initiative can be crafted, put before the voters, and passed into law.”
He wrote that one of the minor mistakes included in this measure is that it does not demonstrate the understanding that permitting the sale of cannabis to of-age adults in the state of Oregon, may result in the black market re-sale of the purchased products in surrounding states. This is why he proposed the idea of a treaty between state and federal governments agreeing that the production and sale of marijuana can be legalized in any state that takes the necessary precautions to ensure the products remain within state lines. Many law enforcement agencies will be left with extra time and extra money in the budget if petty marijuana arrests are no longer a priority. Some of those man hours could be shifted to focus on keeping marijuana products within state lines.
Another criticism is that the large focus on preventing marketing of marijuana and infused products to minors may cast a shadow on the possibly larger issue of adult dependency on marijuana. Kleiman also writes that it may be a smarter option to prevent the opportunities for the development of Big Marijuana into the industry by requiring that all legal production and sale must be in the hands of non-profit organizations and co-operatives. This would keep the lust of big money out of the equation, leaving only good intentions.
Even with these criticisms, public and drug policy expert, Mark Kleiman, still supports voting YES to measure 91 in Oregon next month. Any changes that need to be made to the details of the measure, once voted in, can be done so with a majority vote by state legislature. Perhaps Kleiman’s endorsement will sway fenced voters to hop down onto the side of legalization, comforted, knowing that the country’s leading policy expert has thoroughly examined the situation, and has deemed it harmless enough.
photo credit: Washington Post