|Photo: Oregon Medical Marijuana Program|
The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) campaign to tax and regulate marijuana, which is circulating petitions to get the measure on the ballot for November’s election, has collected fewer than 5,000 signatures, with 100,000 signatures needed by July.
OCTA would effectively legalize the cultivation, possession and personal use or marijuana in Oregon, and would be the first law of its kind in the nation, reports Ian Geronimo at the Oregon Daily Emerald, the independent student newspaper at the University of Oregon.
Support for cannabis regulation is rising, according to OCTA advocate Matt Switzer, with a legalization measure already qualified for the California ballot in November.
But marijuana advocates in the other two Pacific Coast states, Oregon and Washington, are facing similar predicaments: Scrambling to gather enough signatures to get their proposals on the ballot and let the voters decide.
“The proposed initiative needs 100,000 signatures by July before it can be placed on the November ballot,” Switzer said. “We have less than 5,000 signatures.”
|Photo: Digital Journal|
|Jack Cole, LEAP: Opposition would likely stem from law enforcement agencies, who receive 20 percent of their current budget from state revenue provided by the War On Drugs|
OCTA is supported by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of current and former officers opposed to the War On Drugs.
LEAP Executive Director Jack Cole, a 26-year veteran of the New Jersey state police, said the current laws against marijuana perpetuate injustice.
“When you prohibit any drug, you create an underground market for that drug, and that attracts criminal activity,” Cole said. “Marijuana — it’s just a weed; it has zero value until we say it’s illegal, then the price artificially inflates, becomes so obscenely high, that up until about a year ago when the economy took a turn, marijuana was worth more, ounce for ounce, than gold.”
Cole said marijuana advocates were fighting for ballot measures in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Nevada, California, Washington, and Oregon.
The changes proposed by OCTA would not interfere with or affect current medical marijuana laws in Oregon as defined by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.
Switzer said the proposal, which would be Ballot Measure 73 if enough signatures are gathered by July, still has no organized opposition, but that will probably develop if the proposal gains traction.
“There will most likely be some backlash from those agencies who will likely see a decrease in revenue, along with marijuana farmers who may see the exorbitant price they charge decrease as the black market no longer will have a monopoly on the plant,” Switzer said.
According to Cole, opposition would likely stem from law enforcement agencies, who he said receive 20 percent of their current budget from state revenue provided for the War On Drugs.
But Switzer sees another potential issue for legalization advocates in Oregon.
“Stoners are chronically bad at engaging with the political process, and many have reservations signing their names and addresses endorsing the legalization of a substance the government has for years lied about,” Switzer said.
“We are trying to stress that this is a civil rights issue and that American citizens should not be imprisoned because of harmless beliefs and actions simply because someone saw they could make money from persecuting a large portion of the country.”