Election Day 2014 is rapidly approaching, and it’s likely that there will be two states and Washington D.C. voting on marijuana legalization. Alaska’s legalization campaign has already made it on the ballot, and efforts in Washington D.C. and Oregon are likely to also get on the ballot. None of the efforts are guaranteed to win of course, but for the purpose of this article, let’s assume all three pass. This is not a far fetched scenario, as all three efforts for 2014 are ahead in the polls.
How would the three 2014 marijuana legalization initiatives compare to the successful 2012 initiatives in Colorado and Washington? For starters, all of the initiatives previously mentioned would set the legal age at 21 years old. Also, all of the initiatives allow for retail stores. The main differences revolve around possession and cultivation limits.
Colorado allows the cultivation of up to 6 marijuana plants. Washington does not allow any cultivation of marijuana. Both the Washington D.C. initiative and the Alaska initiative allow up to six plants, but unlike Colorado, they specify that only three of those plants can be ‘mature.’ The Oregon campaign allows up to four plants, with no distinction of whether the plants are mature or not. One thing that I always point out to people is that Oregon has the best climate for growing marijuana compared to Colorado, Alaska, or D.C., especially in Southern Oregon. One outdoor plant in Southern Oregon grown the right way can dwarf six indoor plants in Colorado or Alaska combined. For that reason, I think the Oregon cultivation limit is the best. Washington, which doesn’t allow any cultivation, is obviously the worse in this area.
When it comes to possession limits, Colorado and Washington both allow possession of up to one ounce. If passed, Alaska would also allow the possession of one ounce. The D.C. initiative would allow possession of two ounces. Oregon would be the best in this area, because if the initiative passes, it would allow possession of up to eight ounces.
There are other areas to consider with initiatives such as where funding goes, what regulations will be enacted, etc. But most of those areas are evolving, and will change who knows how many times over the years. To me, based off of cultivation and possession limits, Oregon is by far the best initiative out of the five. That’s why the Drug Policy Alliance’s Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann calls New Approach Oregon’s initiative ‘the gold standard.’ Washington is clearly the worst. Disclaimer – I’m a lifelong Oregon resident, and have a lot of home state pride. Take this article for what you will, but I feel that the math speaks for itself.