The Oregonian, the largest newspaper in the Northwest, has an editorial out summing up the 2013 Oregon legislative session. The editorial, “A good session for personal freedom: Agenda 2013″, includes both recently passed cannabis law reform as well as a future legalization referral or ballot measure as part of an ongoing political climate in Oregon that is promoting individual liberty.
From The Oregonian Editorial Board:
A marijuana-legalization measure will almost surely appear on that ballot as well, and the Legislature this session approved a bill that will improve its prospects substantially. No, lawmakers didn’t approve the legalization bill supporters offered as an alternative to a citizen initiative. Instead, they sanctioned dispensaries for medical marijuana, completing the shadow-legalization effort begun 1998, when voters approved medical marijuana. Pot cards are notoriously easy to obtain in Oregon, and those who have them will soon be able to shop for marijuana with the state’s blessing.
Legalization advocates plan to prepare a ballot measure in advance of the short 2014 session, says Anthony Johnson of New Approach Oregon. If lawmakers decline once again to refer a legalization measure to voters, it’ll be signature-gathering time. The case for legalization would be easy to make at that point even if Washington hadn’t beaten Oregon to the pot punch last year. Supporters could point to Oregon’s full-service medical marijuana system and suggest that it was time to stop the charade.
New Approach Oregon is a PAC that cannabis law reform advocates formed to fund legalization lobbying efforts during this past legislative session. New Approach hired Oxley & Associates, a prominent lobbying firm that includes Apple and Phillip Morris as clients. Oxley & Associates added immediate credibility to our issue at the Oregon Legislature and many politicians and policy makers certainly took notice and gave cannabis law reform proposals more respect as a result. While a legalization measure, didn’t pass or get referred to voters, there is still a chance it will in the February 2014 session. Having Oxley & Associates lead the charge towards full legalization for all adults allowed other cannabis law reforms to pass as these lesser measures were no longer controversial to legislators. And as The Oregonian editorializes, if the legislature fails to lead on ending cannabis prohibition (again), we will take the issue straight to the voters.
Cannabis law reform advocates once considered The O an obstacle to common sense reforms. It seems that activists have pulled the Northwest’s largest newspaper to the right side of history.
The Oregonian Editorial Board mentions the establishment of licensed and regulated medical cannabis dispensaries, but fails to mention the several other cannabis law reforms that certainly fit within the freedom agenda. Adding PTSD as a qualifying condition to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA), ending the ridiculous penalty of suspending one’s driving privileges for possessing less than an ounce of cannabis and reducing the penalties for possessing up to 112 grams and the unlawful cultivation of cannabis plants were also passed during this historic legislative session. The Oregon cannabis community worked together very effectively this year and everyone involved should be commended. The great work done this session puts Oregon in a great place to be in the next wave of states joining Colorado and Washington in ending prohibition.
While I certainly disagree with the editorial board’s allegation that the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) is a “charade,” legalization advocates can certainly point to the state’s “full-service medical marijuana system” as a reason to regulate cannabis commerce among all adults. The state will soon be licensing and regulating medical cannabis dispensaries and collecting licensing fees. The upcoming dispensary system will generate revenue for the state and create new jobs, but the new revenue and jobs will be a drop in the bucket compared to what the state will gain by ending cannabis and hemp prohibition. Just as Colorado’s citizens witnessed first-hand that a regulated cannabis dispensary system could be expanded to all adults, Oregon voters will certainly see that regulated cannabis commerce is not to be feared, especially when our neighbors to the north will be generating revenue and creating job through regulated sales as well.
The Oregonian seems to have moved towards a more libertarian mindset after years of butting heads with Oregon’s cannabis community, and I certainly support the change. I also agree with the editorial board here―freedom is on the march. And we won’t stop marching forward until all of us are free.