The Portland Mercury, Portland, Oregon’s second largest weekly, has endorsed Measure 80, a proposal that would end cannabis prohibition in the state. While one may assume that an alternative news publication that bills itself as “Portland’s Most Awesome Weekly Newspaper” would endorse a cannabis legalization measure, the paper surprisingly opposed Measure 74, a proposal to license and regulate medical cannabis dispensaries in 2010. As a co-author of Measure 74, I was certainly surprised to see the progressive publication oppose a measure that would have provided safe access to Oregon’s patients, created thousands of jobs and generated millions in the revenue for the state. It is good to see that The Portland Mercury has come back to its senses.
Unfortunately, the endorsement starts with an insult that perpetuates stereotypes and is simply false. The weekly calls Oregon’s cannabis law reform activists “slackers” for not raising as much campaign funds as counterparts in Washington and Colorado. While it is true that Oregon’s cannabis legalization measure has not had the same fund-raising success as the two other states, it isn’t because advocates are slackers. Slackers don’t raise over $400,000 and collect over 150,000 signatures getting a measure on the ballot in the first place.
The Portland Mercury’s endorsement:
MEASURE 80 (LEGALIZE POT AND HEMP): YES
Oregon’s marijuana advocates are—surprise—slackers. Marijuana legalization measures on the ballot this year in Washington and Colorado have brought in boatloads of national support and built $4 million and $1 million campaign war chests, respectively. Meanwhile, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act has raised only $37,000 ($5,000 of it from hippie soap outfit Dr. Bronner’s—eee!). That’s too bad, because the poorly run measure is actually a good idea that would kick Oregon marijuana policy out of its wink-wink medicinal limbo, where selling pot is illegal so medical marijuana growers have to take, instead, “recommended donations.” This measure sets up pot to function like alcohol: Created by state-licensed growers, sold in state-licensed stores, overseen by an Oregon Liquor Control Commission-like state board. Like alcohol, pot would still be illegal to smoke in public or to sell without a license. A to-be-determined pot tax would cover the bureaucratic cost of running that licensing, plus Oregon would see fewer prosecutions for marijuana crimes. Face it: A large chunk of our state economy runs on marijuana. By not admitting it exists, we’re leaving money on the table.
Despite starting the endorsement with an insult, it is good to see a media outlet tell one of the simple truths about why Oregon should end cannabis prohibition—a major portion of the state’s economy is already dependent upon cannabis. Oregon, and all states, should regulate and tax cannabis to create good-paying jobs and generate revenue for social services.
Republished with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition