Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jul 2012
Source: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Copyright: 2012 Statesman Journal
Author: Peter Wong


Supporters of a proposed initiative to legalize marijuana for adults
and authorize the state to tax it gather at the Oregon State Capitol
in Salem, Ore., Friday, July 6, 2012.

Written by Peter Wong Statesman Journal

Advocates were confident that an additional 60,000 signatures they
submitted today will give Oregon voters a chance to decide whether to
legalize marijuana use for adults.

The initiative requires 31,344 more valid signatures to qualify for a
statewide vote Nov. 6. Sponsors had already submitted about 100,000
signatures on May 25, but they fell short of qualifying the measure on
the first round.

Paul Stanford of Portland, one of three chief petitioners, said times
have changed since voters rejected a legalization measure in 1986.

"We're going to create tens of thousands of high-wage jobs and put
Oregon on the cutting edge of exciting new economic development," he
said on the Capitol steps before submitting the additional signatures.

The measure has won the endorsement of Local 555 of United Food and
Commercial Workers.

Union spokesman Jeff Anderson likened the debate over the measure to
the national arguments in the 1920s over Prohibition, which was
repealed in 1933 and alcohol sales legalized.

"This is also a means to unleash the agricultural community," Anderson

The initiative would legalize personal use of marijuana by adults,
allow the state to regulate its cultivation and sale, and earmark most
of the taxes generated for the state general fund. Voters authorized
marijuana for medicinal use in 1998, but rejected a measure in 2010 to
set up state-licensed dispensaries for patients.

"I often smelled marijuana wafting through the halls," said Madeline
Martinez, a former state corrections officer who is allied with the
sponsors. "If we can't stop marijuana from going into a
maximum-security prison, we will never stop smoking marijuana."

A similar measure has already qualified for the ballot in Washington

Both may be challenged under federal law, which still bars possession
of the drug, but Stanford said he thinks it can withstand a legal challenge.

A different measure proposes to amend the Oregon Constitution for
legalization. But its sponsor said that because of the greater number
of required signatures, it may fail to qualify for the ballot.

Today is the deadline for sponsors to submit petition signatures for
proposed initiatives to the secretary of state. State officials have
until Aug. 5 to decide whether they have enough valid signatures to
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MAP posted-by: Matt