Pubdate: Thu, 7 Oct 2010
Source: Mail Tribune, The (Medford, OR)
Copyright: 2010 The Mail Tribune
Note: Only prints LTEs from within it's circulation area, 200 word count limit
Author: Damian Mann
Bookmark: (Proposition 19)
Bookmark: (Measure 74)


If California Proposition 19 and Oregon Measure 74 pass, what then?

Speculation runs the gamut: The price of marijuana will drop. 
Oregonians will flock to California to get high. Growers will ship 
product to the East Coast to get a better price. Police will have a 
more difficult time determining who's legally allowed to possess or 
distribute marijuana.

No one knows for sure what the impacts will be if California 
legalizes small amounts of marijuana and Oregon establishes state-run 
medical marijuana dispensaries, or what'll happen if one measure 
passes and the other doesn't.

"I suspect that locally the price will go down, and we will quickly 
become the source for the illegal marijuana trade throughout the 
country," said Sgt. Erik Fisher of the Oregon State Police Drug 
Enforcement Section. "It certainly puts the OSP in a pickle. I think 
it's going to be a mess."

Fisher, who said the OSP is careful not to take a position on Measure 
74, predicts that law enforcement will struggle with conflicting 
marijuana laws if either or both measures pass. Fisher said OSP has 
no problems with people legally growing or consuming pot under 
existing medical marijuana laws.

California's initiative would allow a person 21 or older to legally 
possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow it in a space of up 
to 25 square feet at home. In Oregon, Measure 74 would set up 
state-regulated marijuana dispensaries funded by charging growers and 
dispensaries an annual licensing fee and 10 percent of their income.

Passage of Proposition 19 would prompt Jackson County residents to 
cross state lines to buy weed, predicts Lori Duckworth, executive 
director of the Southern Oregon chapter of the National Organization 
for Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, based in Medford.

"They would run for the border," she said.

Duckworth said many local residents who may need medical marijuana 
are reluctant to get a card for fear their names will become known to 
law enforcement.

"They don't want to be on the list," she said.

Melanie Barniskis, spokeswoman for Progressive Reform of Oregon, said 
her organization supports legalization of drugs in general to end 
confusion over laws. It believes that drug abuse is a medical issue, 
not a legal issue.

Barniskis sees different scenarios playing out, depending on how 
voters respond to the two initiatives.

If Proposition 19 and Measure 74 fail in both states, she expects law 
enforcement will take that as a mandate to come down hard on pot 
growers and consumers.

If Proposition 19 passes, she believes there will be a temptation for 
Southern Oregon pot growers to ship product across the border to take 
advantage of the wide-open market.

If both measures pass, marijuana will become like any other 
agricultural product -- subject to supply and demand, she said.

"The price is going to drop drastically in the beginning," she 
predicted. "The price is going to be consumer-driven."

She doubts the marijuana trade would be taken over by big business 
exclusively, as some fear, partly because different types of pot 
treat different maladies. One type of marijuana is good for headaches 
for one individual, but not for someone else, she said.

Fisher of the OSP rejects the idea that police will become emboldened 
if Measure 74 fails, because the existing Oregon Medical Marijuana 
Act is still in effect.

He believes California's initiative will pose the most problems.

"I suspect if Proposition 19 passes, it will get the attention of the 
federal government," he said.

Troopers would have to make judgment calls if marijuana were found 
during a traffic stop, determining whether it was purchased in 
California or whether the person has a legitimate medical marijuana 
card in Oregon, he said.

If marijuana drops to $50 an ounce or less, he expects much of the 
marijuana grown in Oregon and California will head to the East Coast, 
where it can fetch up to $700 an ounce.

With a climate well-suited for marijuana cultivation, Southern Oregon 
already leads the state in seizures of illegal plants, he said.

Medford police Deputy Chief Tim George doubts residents of Jackson 
County will head to the border to get their weed.

"Why would you burn up your gas money?" he said. "No one's going to 
drive to Hilt for an ounce of weed."

George concedes that an ounce of pot costs about $300 or more 
presently, but doesn't think an expected price drop in California 
would attract local residents, particularly when Jackson County is 
awash in weed.

If Measure 74 and Proposition 19 pass, George said it will not hinder 
the Medford Police Department's campaign to stop the illegal use of marijuana.

"As Charlton Heston once said, I won't let go of it 'from my cold 
dead hands,'" George said.



A five-day series on measures in the Nov. 2 election

Sunday: Proponents of Oregon Measure 74 say it would guarantee a 
reliable supply of medical marijuana

Monday: M74 opponents say it's too troublesome or doesn't go far enough

Tuesday: California mayors square off over Proposition 19, the 
legalization of marijuana

Wednesday: Prop 19 may lead to showdown with federal government

Today: What if both measures pass? What would be the impacts to 
Southern Oregon?

A public forum

What: Forum on the impacts of Oregon Measure 74 and California 
Proposition 19, sponsored by the Mail Tribune and Jefferson Public Radio

When: 7 p.m. today, Oct. 7

Where: Rogue River Room, Stevenson Union, Southern Oregon University

Cost: Free

Panelists include Sgt. Erik Fisher of the Oregon State Police Drug 
Enforcement Program; Portland attorney Leland Berger, who assisted in 
writing the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act; Deputy Chief Tim George of 
the Medford Police Department; Leslie Wilde, who runs the Green 
Collar Compassionate Collective dispensary in Dunsmuir, Calif.

Live video stream: The Mail Tribune will provide a live blog and 
video stream of tonight's forum. To read along or watch, go to and click on the blog/video 
link near the top of the page. People who watch will have the 
opportunity to ask questions that may be incorporated into the 
evening's presentation. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake