Pubdate: Tue, 28 Sep 2010
Source: Ashland Daily Tidings (OR)
Copyright: 2010 Ashland Daily Tidings
Author: Paul Fattig, For the Tidings
Referenced: The Field Poll
Cited: Proposition 19
Bookmark: (Proposition 19)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)


Representative Believes Move Would Raise Revenue, Reduce Criminal Activity

If California voters approve a measure in November to legalize 
marijuana, Oregon state Rep. Peter Buckley intends to introduce 
similar legislation when Oregon lawmakers return to Salem in 2011.

The Oregon legislator says the proposed Oregon Cannabis Revenue Act 
would tax and regulate pot for adult consumption.

In addition to raising revenue, Buckley said, it would dramatically 
reduce criminal activity now associated with it, including the 
illegal pot gardens now frequently found on area federal forestlands.

"But what happens in California is the key," said Buckley, an Ashland 
Democrat who is co-chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

"California is huge," he said. "If California decides to legalize it, 
I want my colleagues to at least let Oregon voters weigh in on the issue."

He believes that Oregonians would likely follow California's lead, 
followed by residents in Washington state.

Californians approved that state's landmark medical marijuana law 14 
years ago; Oregonians followed suit four years later.

California's Proposition 19, which will be on the Nov. 2 ballot, 
would decriminalize pot for adults 21 or older in possession of an 
ounce or less for personal use. California residents could also grow 
marijuana gardens up to 25 square feet.

In addition, the proposal would allow cities and local governments to 
decide whether to allow pot sales and levy taxes on those sales.

The legislative language was largely written by activist Melodie 
Silverwolf and Madeline Martinez, executive director of Oregon 
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. After meeting 
with them last week, Buckley agreed to introduce the legislation in 
the upcoming legislative session.

According to Martinez, the legislation would be a starting point for 
Oregon to end cannabis prohibition for all adults while keeping the 
Oregon Medical Marijuana Program in place. Oregonians already will be 
voting on an expansion of that system in November, deciding whether 
to allow marijuana dispensaries for those with medical marijuana cards.

Opponents to legalizing pot in the state have long argued that 
legalization would cause more problems with drug abuse as well as 
more headaches for law enforcement agencies.

"I don't think you can legalize your way out of a problem, and you 
can't sin tax your way out," said Tim George, deputy chief of the 
Medford Police Department, of Buckley's proposed legislation. George 
challenges claims that it would raise significant taxes or reduce crime.

Buckley said it is time for Oregonians to have a rational debate on the issue.

"It is a difficult proposal because cannabis has been stereotyped for 
so long," he said. "It's hard to have a rational discussion about it. 
But that's my intention: to finally have a rational discussion about 

The Oregon measure would be slightly different from the California 
proposal in several ways, Buckley said.

It would set up a system with the state Department of Agriculture 
establishing where marijuana could be grown.

The state would also create a group similar to the Oregon Liquor 
Control Commission, called the Oregon Cannabis Control Commission, 
which would regulate how pot is grown and consumed, he said.

"Perhaps we can get out of the mess we are in with drug cartels from 
Mexico," he said. "My goal is to do everything I can to get rid of 
the black market.

"Prohibition doesn't work," he said. "With this, we would regulate it 
and tax it. It would help pay for Oregon's education system, for 
human services and for public safety."

Meanwhile, a field poll released Sunday by the Associated Press 
showed that Proposition 19 is currently supported by 49 percent of 
the likely California voters, while 42 percent were opposed. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake