Pubdate: Wed, 20 Aug 2014
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2014 The Oregonian
Author: Jeff Mapes


Marijuana Legalization In Oregon

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Kevin Sabet, the nation's most prominent crusader against marijuana
legalization, will give a series of taxpayer-supported talks in 13
Oregon cities just weeks before the state votes on the issue.

That has marijuana legalization supporters crying foul. "It raises a
lot of questions about federal tax dollars being used to interfere in
a state election," said Anthony Johnson, chief sponsor of Measure 91.

Sabet and the sponsors of the talks say he won't discuss the ballot
measure at the event and that his appearances are part of ongoing
efforts to deal with drug and alcohol abuse.

"These are educational events, not political events" said Sabet, a
former White House drug control adviser. He added that he would tell
attendees at the beginning of the events that he and other speakers
won't discuss the ballot measure.

Sabet, who along with former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I. formed Smart
Approaches to Marijuana, has frequently campaigned against marijuana
legalization. Last January, he traveled to Oregon to talk to
legislators about the issue.

This time, Sabet and several other speakers will attend an Oct. 1-2
event in Madras billed as the "Oregon Marijuana, Alcohol & Other Drugs
Summit." Following that, Sabet will appear at evening events in 12
other cities described as the "Oregon Marijuana Education Tour."

The two-day Madras event and at least some of the other appearances
are paid for in part by federal grants from the Drug-Free Communities
Support Program. In addition to Sabet, Clatsop County District
Attorney Josh Marquis, another outspoken opponent of legalization, is
also billed as a potential speaker.

"Regardless of any mention of the ballot measure by name, it seems
pretty apparent they are hoping to influence an election in Oregon
using taxpayer dollars," said Johnson.

Rick Treleaven, the executive director of a nonprofit that runs
community mental health programs for Jefferson County and that is
putting on the Madras summit, said the two-day event has been held for
several years.

He said the marijuana portion of the event was expanded to other
cities this year because of interest from drug prevention workers
around the state. He said that marijuana is the "hot topic of the
moment," both because of the legalization debate and the increasing
availability of the drug through the medical marijuana program.

Treveleaven said that in retrospect, he probably should have moved
timing of the tour to avoid charges of trying to influence the
November vote. But he said it never occurred to him this would be an

He said the Madras event will cost up to $15,000 to stage, with about
half of that being paid for by federal grant funds. Organizers at the
other venues said they also planned to use a mixture of public and
private funds.

Connie Ramaekers of Tigard Turns the Tide said the "event fits in well
with our mission" to prevent drug and alcohol use among youths.

"We aren't there to sway voters," said Ramaekers, arguing that
regardless of the issues surrounding legalization, people need to
learn about the dangers of adolescent use of marijuana.

- -- Jeff Mapes 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D