Mar 192013
 March 19, 2013

Oregon marijuana legalization hb 3371 judiciary committeeIt took awhile, but the largest media outlet in Oregon has finally covered the historic Oregon House Bill 3371 which would regulate marijuana like alcohol. Better late than never right?! According to the Oregonian, and my friends at the state capital, Oregon HB 3371 is  scheduled for an April 2 public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. There are some amazing people working behind the scenes to make marijuana legalization a reality in my home state, and I hope that we join Colorado and Washington sooner than later. Below is a summary of the bill, from our friends at the National Cannabis Coalition who are backing the bill:

On the heels of Colorado and Washington legalizing cannabis, the Oregon House Committee on Revenue has recently introduced a bill that would end cannabis prohibition by licensing, regulating and taxing cannabis similar to alcohol.  After legalization victories in two states and 47% of Oregon voters supporting a proposal that would have allowed the unlimited personal production and possession of cannabis last November, The OregonianEditorial Board called on state lawmakers to craft a sensible legalization bill.  The editorial board was rightfully concerned that Oregon would be losing out on much-needed revenue to its northern neighbor.

And if business booms at Washington’s pot shops, as expected? Our neighbor to the north will collect millions of dollars in new “sin” taxes, with much of the money coming from Oregonians who’d be happy to keep their business — and taxes — in state if given the opportunity.

Losing out on all that revenue would be a pity. However, when policies diverge so widely in adjoining states — whether they govern marijuana or taxes - people move back and forth in pursuit of their interests. Want to stop the movement? Remove the incentives by leveling the policies.

The obvious policy response for Oregon is to legalize marijuana as Washington has done. Like the idea or hate it, it wouldn’t amount to a radical change. For all intents and purposes, Oregon legalized the casual use of marijuana years ago through that giant loophole known as the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. By taking the Washington approach, the state at least would be honest about what it’s doing and, perhaps, collect some cash in the process.

Some astute Oregon legislators appear to have heard The Oregonian (and common sense) loud and clear.  It is time to stop wasting hard-earned tax dollars on trying to prevent people from growing, selling and utilizing cannabis.  Instead of wasting money on cannabis prohibition, House Bill 3371 would establish a licensed and regulated industry that creates thousands of jobs and generates millions of dollars through licenses fees and excise taxes.

The bill takes good parts from both the Washington and Colorado models and crafts a proposal that will regulate and tax cannabis like alcohol, implementing safeguards to better keep marijuana out of the hands of children while also generating millions of dollars in revenue for education, public safety, substance abuse treatment and mental health services.  Unlike, Washington’s I-502, HB 3371 doesn’t establish a per se DUII law as it leaves the current DUII law alone.  Employment and landlord-tenant law are also left alone.  Like Colorado Amendment 64, the measure allows for small, personal cannabis gardens.  The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) will handle inspections and enforcement, tasked with ensuring that cannabis retail outlets are checking IDs and keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors.

The timing is right for Oregon to end cannabis prohibition.  Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis with strong majorities and support is increasing rapidly among Oregon voters.  Passing HB 3371 is a good policy for the state as it will expand individual rights; raise funds for much-needed services; save money by diverting resources currently spent on marijuana enforcement; and allow police to focus on more important priorities, like violent crime.  Just like alcohol prohibition, cannabis prohibition is a failure that is robbing good citizens of their tax dollars, without accomplishing any of its intended goals.  I commend the House Committee on Revenue for taking up this important issue and look forward to helping move this bill forward.

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Rooster

    Lets get those dominoes falling… perhaps Missouri won’t be too far behind..

  • Paul McClancy

    It would be a riot if they said April 1st instead of the 2nd. Let’s hope all goes well.

  • Tiffiney Mcclelan

    I pray this goes through on the 2nd ,in Portland Oregon. We the people have spoken lets legalize this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carolyn.castigliahathaway Carolyn Castiglia-Hathaway

    I am courious, one of the things keeping the Federal government somewhat at bay right now, in regards to CO and WA legalizing it; is that the PEOPLE voted for it. So, in this case, if OR passes this though the House how might the Federal government respond? I am ALL for it and like Rooster I hope Missouri wakes up and does the same, we are still waiting for them to legalize the it for Medical use. However, I fear the Federal government will retaliate….just because they can.

  • Johnny oneye

    cannabis was Indian currency. In many ways it still is worth more than gold .
    A hand of tobacco could trade well at swap meets . The measurement used in old times was a hand or a fist , how much you could hold in your grip.
    Hers is a great hollywood movie :” HEMP saves planet from human beings”
    In this crazy matrix type film there is 1 choice either take the green pill or suffer from tumors run rampant!
    We live in a world with so many pollutants 1 out of 3 will get some type of cancer!
    the choice is upon you! either continue the “practice” of modern medicine in all its gory side effects or take the “green pill- Cannabidiol”
    The creator of this universe put cannabis on this planet for a reason . Never in the history of man has 1 plant been so versatile , food for the starving , clothing for the cold ,oil for your lantern,rope to hold your horses
    bricks to build your house ( see Jack Herer)
    And most importantly : 1 OF THE SAFEST KNOWN MEDICINES OF ALL TIMES.
    In 10 years at the rate we are going Cannabis will not only be “legal” it will be mandotory at birth to ward off all intoxicants!
    this is a movie remember?
    THE CHOICE IS YOURS NEMO!

  • rumbles

    It’s time to get the feds to get out of this stupid MJ drug war. There’s a petition on the White House We The People site to endorse HR 499 to end federal prohibition to marijuana. Just put up; signatures are needed to show support. Spread the word.