Recreational Marijuana Initiative Makes Ballot In Oregon

An initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon made the state’s ballot for November, the state announced on its website Tuesday. Only two U.S. states currently allow recreational pot, which remains illegal under federal law. Oregon’s proposal, should it pass, would make it the third state, behind Washington and Colorado.

The new proposal comes before voters just two years after the rejected a similar initiative, according to Reuters. Peter Zuckerman, spokesman for the campaign in favor of legalizing marijuana in Oregon, stated, “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, that we’ve worked months to get to.”

Voters turned down a similar measure in 2012, but public support has grown since then voters rejected that measure in the Pacific Northwest state. Proponents of the Oregon initiative submitted 88,584 valid signatures from voters, more than the 87,213 required to qualify for the ballot.

Zuckerman noted, “Every signature represents an Oregonian who believes it’s time for a new approach to marijuana. We’ve been trying the black market approach for 40 years and it’s not working.”

Al Jazeera notes that the group backing the latest Oregon recreational marijuana legislation received contributions from some of the same donors who backed successful initiatives in Washington and Colorado in 2012. Little money was spent to promote the last initiative in 2012, so it is possible that the donations from Washington and Colorado backers will help propel the initiative to success.

Kevin Sabet, co-founder of the national anti-marijuana group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said that recent sales of now-legal marijuana products show why legalizing the drug is not safe. Sabet pointed out specifically baked goods, which he asserted have led to “disastrous” public health problems in Colorado. A number of reports have been made in the state of children ingesting sweets laced with cannabis.

Should the measure pass, Sabet believes that money-fueled big marijuana businesses would bring the same problems to Oregon. He told Reuters, “Despite already having the most lax marijuana laws next to Colorado and Washington, big money, special interests from D.C. are now descending onto Oregon in order to create the next Big Tobacco of our time.”

While Colorado has had problems with children ingesting cannabis sweets, Washington’s marijuana shops do not currently sell edibles, as none have yet been approved by the state.

The Oregon measure would allows adults 21 and older to buy and possess marijuana. It also gives the Oregon Liquor Control Commission the task of regulating and taxing the plant. With a broader support system and more proponents, the recreational marijuana legislation in Oregon could pass this fall.

[Image by smokershighlife]