Pubdate: Sun, 16 Dec 2012
Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)
Copyright: 2012 The Register-Guard
Author: Allan Erickson
nOTE: Allan Erickson, a writer and photographer, is a volunteer for the
Media Awareness Project, a member of the Drug Policy Forum of Oregon,
and a volunteer member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.


When I woke up on Dec. 6 I was surprised to find the sky was still
there. It didn't fall as predicted after Washington became the first
state to once again have legal marijuana.

Oregon didn't fare as well. Measure 80 was defeated, but not by much.
In Lane County 60 percent of voters said yes to legal weed (thank you,
Lane County!). The statewide tally of 47 percent shines when we
consider that the campaign raised only $60,000 while more than $6
million was received from supporters in Washington for their proposal,
Initiative 502.

Oregon had nowhere near the political or celebrity backing of the
Washington and Colorado efforts. Rick Steves, European travel guru of
the Public Broadcasting System and the "Through the Back Door" books,
provided both his voice and his wallet to the Washington campaign.
Former U.S. Attorneys John McKay and Kate Pflaumer, former FBI
supervising agent in Seattle Charlie Mandigo, both candidates for King
County sheriff, Seattle's mayor, the entire Seattle City Council and
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner all supported

Oregon's politicians need to realize supporting the end of this
nation's longest war - the War On (some) Drugs - is a winning
proposition, not a losing one. Medical marijuana is now a given, and
legalization is inevitable.

Dwight Holton, former U.S. attorney for Oregon, in his run last spring
for the Democratic nomination for Oregon attorney general, found out
the hard way that cannabis proponents have found their voice.
Washington and Colorado confirmed that.

As Samuel Adams said, "It does not take a majority to prevail ... but
rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires of
freedom in the minds of men."

Many worry what the federal response will be. But what can it be? Any
push now by the Obama administration to undo the voters' mandate will
hardly be greeted warmly even by nonlegalization supporters. In pot
terms, Dec. 6, Legalization Day, was the 21st century version of the
Boston Tea Party.

The legalization votes in Washington and Colorado cannot be laughed
off like the FaceBook or YouTube events directing the legalization
question at the president. Those states' votes were a direct shot
across Obama's bow. The tipping point for legalization has been reached.

The facts surrounding the safety of cannabis are available to any who
wish to look. Simply stated, no substance is safer. There is no
overdose potential for marijuana. It does not increase violence, it
lessens it.

Does anyone believe that riots would have occurred if University of
Oregon students had been smoking pot instead of drinking alcohol at
Halloween parties near campus in past years?

In 2000 Holland hosted the European soccer championships. Dutch police
encouraged revelers to light up, keeping the Dutch "coffee shops" open
early into the morning, but sternly warned against public drunkenness.
In the city of Eindhoven, where England played (and lost to) Portugal,
only five arrests were made, and three of those were of ticket scalpers.

In 2004 police in Portugal did the same thing, announcing that
marijuana smoking would be allowed but alcohol availability would be
reduced and public intoxication not tolerated.

The legalization debate is downhill from here. Even ultra-conservative
televangelist Pat Robertson thinks it's time for the U.S. to legalize
cannabis. The ranks of prohibition supporters are dwindling and the
doomsday scenarios of "Reefer Madness" are sounding more shrill and

If Oregon can follow the trend, within four years this state will
legalize the weed. Ideally Oregon will write its own version of
legalization. My hope is that it follows the craft beer model rather
than going the mega-corporate or state-controlled routes. Oregon's
domestic small beer makers employ almost 6,000 people with sales of
more than $2 billion annually.

Prohibition is the enemy, not pot. Drug policy reform activists have
played nice for years, but now the gloves are off. We'll call
prohibition what it is: a lie - a provable, historically documented
lie. A manufactured fraud. Growing and consuming marijuana is in the
truest sense not a crime.

In Oregon activists are tossing around the "what's-next" ball, and I
guarantee that something about legalization will be on the 2014
ballot-if the Legislature doesn't do something first. Potential tax
revenues are quite the lure these days.

The time has come for Oregon to go green.

Allan Erickson, a writer and photographer, is a volunteer for the
Media Awareness Project, a member of the Drug Policy Forum of Oregon,
and a volunteer member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D