The ballot initiative began in Oregon to mobilize opinion in favor of legalization of marijuana, has stirred a huge debate across the state. Known as 'Measure 91', it would allow adults 21 and above to possess up to eight ounces and four plants of marijuana. It would also legalize production and sales in Oregon through the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. If approved, the new measure will make marijuana taxable at the point of sale at $35 per ounce.
Currently, Oregon has allowed only medical marijuana. But, the ballot measure, if successful, will enable the state to allow recreational marijuana too. This is not the first time such initiatives are being taken in Oregon. On November 6, 2012, voters in Oregon had rejected the Ballot Measure 80 by a margin of 53% to 47%. Had it been successful, it would have allowed personal recreational use and cultivation of marijuana and hemp without a license. It had also sought to establish a commission to regulate the commercialized sale and cultivation of the cannabis.
While the new initiative has found favor with many, some individuals and organizations have started campaigning against the move. There have been allegations that federal taxpayer money was being used to fund anti-legalization events. Representative Earl Blumenauer has taken up this matter and called for a probe into the allegations. Interestingly, after he raised the issue, at least 6 out of 13 events were cancelled. Rest of the events continued with private funding.
Kevin Sabet, the co-founder of 'Smart Approaches to Marijuana', is in charge of these controversial events. He clarified that they have been trying to educate people about the health risks posed by marijuana, but never did anything to oppose Oregon's ballot initiative. He also rubbished the charges that federal funding has been used to fund such campaigns.
The 'Measure 91' argues that prohibition of marijuana has resulted in a series of drug-related violence in the state and failed to discourage the children and teen from using marijuana. It has also opened a huge black market and increased the illegal use of pot among the teen and youngsters. Legalization of recreational marijuana would eliminate all these concerns, it says.
The vociferous protests against 'Measure 91' and lessons from the past voting in 2012, are enough to indicate that it won't be a smooth ride for the pro-legalization campaigners in Oregon this time too. Only Colorado and Washington have been successful in legalizing the recreational pot, but the efforts have so far failed in other states. Let's see which list Oregon joins when the voting takes place.