Last Update: August 1, 2014
Oregon voters to decide if marijuana should be treated like alcohol
On Tuesday, July 22, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced New Approach Oregon met the signature threshold to place Initiative 53 on November’s ballot. If you are a resident of Oregon, please make sure your voter registration is current so that you may cast a historic vote for sensible marijuana policies on November 4.
According to the prestigious Brookings Institute, Colorado’s rollout of a taxed and regulated marijuana system has been succeeding. Oregon voters can expect similar results, including tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, sensible controls on the marijuana market, and thousands of legal jobs. Like Colorado’s law, Measure 91 allows adults 21 and older to use and possess a limited amount of marijuana free from penalty. Adults will also be able to purchase a limited amount of marijuana grown by regulated cultivators from regulated stores. There will also be taxes imposed on both the wholesale and retail level. Please see our summary of Measure 91 for more information.
Much congratulations to the team at New Approach Oregon for getting this sensible policy change on the ballot. Please visit their website for more information on the campaign.
Success in Salem in 2013
The 2013 session was quite a successful one for marijuana policy advocates in Salem. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law a bill adding PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program. He also signed two bills into law that reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana: one reduces the maximum sentences for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana, and the other eliminates the practice of suspending driving privileges for someone found in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
In addition to these proposals, local advocates were able to pass HB 3460 — a bill to allow medical marijuana facilities to obtain marijuana and immature marijuana plants from and sell marijuana to medical marijuana patients and their designated primary caregivers. Gov. Kitzhaber signed HB 3460 on August 14, making Oregon the 14th state (plus D.C.) to create a regulated medical marijuana dispensary program. Many thanks go to Sam Chapman and Oregonians for Medical Rights who orchestrated the lobbying effort to see this bill through.
Marijuana laws in Oregon
Arrests for marijuana possession are still happening across the state, despite the fact that Oregon decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana over 40 years ago. Unfortunately, these arrests disproportionately affect minority communities. According to the ACLU, African Americans in Oregon are more than twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors. Additionally, the cost of a marijuana possession citation is excessive. Currently, an individual who possesses up to an ounce of marijuana could be levied with a typical fine of $650! In comparison, in 2008, Massachusetts’ voters chose to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by replacing their state's past criminal penalties with a $100 civil fine. For the same offense, Oregon penalizes its residents more than six times as harshly as Massachusetts.
For more information on the current legal status of marijuana, as well as information on use rates, arrests, and other helpful information, please see Marijuana In Oregon, authored by Dr. Jon Gettman, Ph.D.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and all of our allies. If you have any questions concerning the status of marijuana policy reform in Oregon, you can contact MPP at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service today.