Measure 91 has been playing a prominent role in recent Oregon news coverage–and rightfully so, because this measure, if approved, will have wide-reaching implications for our citizens. A recent Fox 23 poll found that 52% would vote in favor of Measure 91 if the election were held now, with 41% stating that they would vote against the proposal. The actual election is held on November 4th. If voted into law, Measure 91 would legalize the possession of up to eight ounces of cannabis for those of at least age 21, as well as the private cultivation of up to four plants. In addition, state-licensed cannabis retail outlets would be legalized and regulated by the Oregon Liquor Commission.
Measure 91 is actually the third attempt seeking to legalize marijuana in the state of Oregon. Previous efforts were the 1986 measure 5, and 2012 measure 80. Financial arguments have played a prominent role within this current campaign. Monetary studies are projecting that the initiative would create somewhere between $17 million to $40 million per year in tax revenue. In pure accounting terms, some would argue that this figure must be then counterbalanced by the loss of marijuana-related convictions and resultant fines and fees. Therefore a final financial tally is inexact accounting at best.
However, well beyond the financial aspects of this measure are the complex social implications of current significant marijuana usage in Oregon. New Approach Oregon, which has been heavily involved in promoting Measure 91, argues that the state’s current approach to marijuana is a “hodgepodge.” Furthermore, it is stated that the current regulations are quite inconsistent. This organization argues that ultimately this morass costs the state of Oregon dearly in several ways, including:
• There are at least 12,000 arrests and citations for marijuana each year across Oregon counties. Beyond the financial cost and individual trauma, it is argued, every marijuana arrest requires valuable time and personnel, and these resources could have been utilized to patrol a neighborhood, prevent various serious crimes against persons or property, or used to help solve a criminal case.
• Marijuana prohibition actually makes it more difficult to protect children. According to New Approach Oregon, currently it is easier for teenagers to obtain marijuana than it is to buy a six pack of beer. There is no real regulation, and effective prevention programs are chronically underfunded.
• The current, failed approach also supports and actually increases profits for the criminal black market. This includes violent drug cartels waging a drug war on our southern border, a conflict which is spreading nationwide.
Prominent supporters in favor of passage include Former U.S. Attorney Kris Olson and Former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Bill Riggs. Along these lines was this editorial from The Oregonian:
“Measure 91, far from revolutionary, would simply allow Oregon adults to obtain something they may obtain now, but without having to stroll through a ‘medical’ loophole or drive over a bridge to a neighboring state. The measure would be worth supporting for reasons of honesty and convenience alone, but it also would raise millions of dollars per year for schools and other purposes. For that reason, it deserves support even from those who aren’t normally high on taxes.”
By contrast, the group No on 91 lists the following arguments as strong factors against the passage of what is viewed as flawed legislation:
Vote No because Measure 91 has:
• NO established driving rules for marijuana impairment.
• NO legitimate way to regulate amount, as there’s no limit on # of growers or # of store locations permitted.
• NO THC-potency testing requirements on marijuana grown or edibles sold.
• NO packaging and labeling requirements on marijuana edibles (unlike what is required of other food and drug products).
• NO restrictions on marketing and advertising of marijuana edibles (which are appealing to kids)
Opponents of the passage of Measure 91 include Dwight Holton, former U.S. Attorney for Oregon, and organizations such as The Oregon Pediatric Society, The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and The American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Along these lines was this editorial in the Oregonian by Pediatrician Carla McKelvey of Coos Bay — “Now is not the time to legalize marijuana:
“From January to May 2014 the revenue in Colorado from recreational marijuana was $15.3 million dollars. However, due to the concerns of young people increasingly using marijuana, Colorado is spending $17 million dollars on an education campaign targeting 12-15 year olds. They want to make sure parents and young people know the dangers of marijuana use–an area in which more medical studies are showing the true dangers of chronic, long term use. These dangers include a decrease in IQ, possible changes in brain structure, decreased memory and increased risk for mental health disorders.”
Who overall has the more cogent and convincing arguments in this very important debate? It is up to you, the voters of Oregon, to decide! At Dakine 420, we believe that the democratic process of informed community discussion and voting is healthy. We also believe that the benefits of Measure 91 outweigh the potential drawbacks, which can be addressed and remedied. Our current legislation is broken and maintaining the status quo is not going to fix it.
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