We recently broke the story that a bill to legalize cannabis had been introduced in the Oregon Legislature and some mainstream media outlets are now picking up the story as the bill has been scheduled for a hearing before the Oregon House Judiciary Committee. We here at NCC helped craft this bill, along with both Oregon grassroots and national activists. I am the director of a new PAC established to help promote this bill during the 2013 Oregon legislative session. If Oregon legislators won’t pass a bill this session, we will transition to a legislative referral for 2014. If the legislators ultimately fail to act, then we are preparing for a possible initiative petition drive to place the measure before Oregon voters in November of 2014.
From The Oregonian:
State lawmakers scrounging for money for schools, mental health and public safety could find the solution to their funding woes to be green.
“Soon, we may have our neighbor to the north collecting tax revenue from Oregon residents, when Oregon should be collecting that revenue,” said Anthony Johnson, director of New Approach Oregon, a new political action committee formed by a coalition of groups seeking legalization of marijuana and hemp in Oregon. “Marijuana is safer than alcohol, and it makes sense to regulate it like alcohol.”
House Bill 3371, as currently written, would allow adults over 21 to grow up to 6 mature cannabis plants and posses up to 24 ounces, the current limits imposed upon Oregon medical marijuana cardholders. Only sales regulated by the state will be allowed as the bill establishes the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) as the government agency tasked with regulating commercial producers, processors and retailers. A $35 tax on each ounce will be imposed, providing the state with millions of dollars of additional revenue. Forty percent of the revenue raised will go towards schools, 20% to public safety, 20% to mental health services and 20% towards the state’s General Fund. The bill doesn’t impact the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP), driving under the influence laws or employer/employee relations. The bill will also fully legalize hemp production in Oregon as it removes federal interference as a reason for the state Department of Agriculture from issuing hemp production licenses.
The Oregonian Editorial Board has already called upon the Oregon Legislature to enact a common-sense legalization measure and House Bill 3371 provides legislators that very opportunity. Cannabis legalization is inevitable. Every arrest, prosecution and jail sentence is such a tragic waste, as is every violent crime that could be prevented if our law enforcement resources were better prioritized. Workers remain unemployed, revenue goes uncollected and our schools are underfunded, but House Bill 3371 can help. Let’s hope that the Oregon Legislature will do what is best for their constituents and join Washington and Colorado in ending the harmful policy of cannabis prohibition.