Oregon: Two Marijuana Legalization Initiative Petition Drives Start Strong
By Steve Elliott and Michael Bachara
The national wave of marijuana law reform is gaining momentum every day, and it isn't going to leave out Oregon. More than 30,000 people came to Kelley Point Park on September 7 and 8 for the ninth annual Hempstalk Festival, and more than 5,000 of them signed two marijuana initiative petitions while they were there.
Initiative 21 would amend the Oregon Constitution, ending criminal penalties for cannabis and permitting adult recreational marijuana use, possession and cultivation.
Initiative 22, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2014, creates a commission to regulate the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the Oregon General Fund, helping to pay for schools, roads, and social services.
The groups HEMP in Oregon (Help End Marijuana Prohibition in Oregon) and CRRH (Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp) have kicked off a vigorous volunteer and paid petition drive to get both initiatives on the ballot for November 2014, according to director Paul Stanford.
"Marijuana prohibition does not work and is expensive to maintain," Stanford said. "We must move forward on a better path for hemp and marijuana in Oregon."
Some Oregon lawmakers like Rep. Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene) agree that marijuana prohibition does not work, reports Anna Staver at the Portland Statesman Journal. Barnhart is pushing the Democratic Party leadership to form a bicameral committee to study the impact of cannabis legalization revenue, criminal justice and healthcare in the state.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Rep. Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte), told the Statesman Journal last week that legislators might write their own marijuana legalization bill. McLane said that way, the lawmakers could ensure it passes "with the oversight and protections lawmakers want," rather than continuing to simply oppose any form of legalization.
To get involved in the petition drives, visit http://www.hemp.org.