Oregon’s most recent poll has Measure 80 sitting at 42% in favor, 49% against and around 10% undecided. While the media tends to spin these numbers in a negative light, I can’t help but see anything other than positive momentum. A previous poll from a few weeks back had support sitting around 37%. A 5% increase shows us that what we are doing IS working, but with only three days left until election day, it’s coming down to the wire in Oregon.
For months Oregon activists have been taking the brunt end of criticism for being far behind Colorado and Washington in the polls and in fundraising. I will admit that this was to be expected as soon as Measure 80 was rumored to have made the ballot. As soon as it did, the complaints and criticism started to roll in. Even with the ridicule and negativity, we decided to continue moving forward and work with what we had. Many people told us it was going to be a waste of time. “Just wait till 2014 or 2016” they said.
The past few months have given me a new perspective on how communities, organizations and activists could and perhaps should go about facilitating and running a legalization campaign in Oregon. The experience we have had in Oregon this election has been an amazing learning process. A process that has made us stronger.
So what’s next for Oregon if Measure 80 passes?
If Measure 80 passes we will soon find ourselves at the table with the federal government. Many people have expressed their fears of having this conversation. Perhaps rightfully so.
The fear is that if we pass the law, the federal government will simply strike it down and/or just continue to enforce federal law. This could very well be the case. But we need not be afraid of the conversations we must have in order to move forward on the issue of ending marijuana prohibition. We can certainly count on the federal government doing something, but we won’t know until we cross that bridge.
Legalization of marijuana will never be a top down process. If we want change in federal law, the states must stand up – with a united voice - just as Oregon, Washington and Colorado are doing now. As my good friend Russ Belville stated in a Measure 80 panel discussion held at PSU last week, “If slavery was on the ballot but didn’t have a shot at standing
up in federal court, would you still vote against it?”.
On top of federal intervention, we would also need to address the regulations and composition/duties of the Oregon Cannabis Commission (OCC) that would be set up through Measure 80.
The number one complaint about this commission is that five of the seven members will be selected from the grower/marijuana industry. From a public perspective, this may seem a little daunting. After all, marijuana growers and industry members are still treated as outcasts so it would make sense for people to have a reaction to giving them a majority of votes on the commission.
There are two points here to settle the public’s concern.
The first point that has yet to be mentioned in the mainstream media is that if Measure 80 passes, the governor picks all seven members who sit on the OCC in the first year of operation. This should settle public fears about some kind of “marijuana monopoly” that I commonly hear from voters and politicians.
The second point is that it just so happens that the liquor commission is set up the same way. The alcohol industry is heavily involved with how there own regulations are set. After all, who knows alcohol better than those who create and distribute it? The same can be for marijuana growers and suppliers.
OK, so what if Measure 80 fails?
I can safely say that I know there will be efforts to run a legalization campaign in Oregon in 2014, and if not then most certainly 2016. I can say from personal experience that Oregon activists have learned more than we could have ever expected to in this election. AND we plan to put our newly gained knowledge to good use in the years to come.
Regardless of what happens in Oregon with Measure 80, we will continue to fight the injustices that come with marijuana prohibition in Oregon, and around the country.
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