Pubdate: Wed, 05 Nov 2014
Source: Mail Tribune, The (Medford, OR)
Copyright: 2014 The Mail Tribune
Note: Only prints LTEs from within it's circulation area, 200 word count limit
Author: Damian Mann

Ballot Measure 91


Oregon has joined Washington, Colorado and the District of Columbia 
in legalizing recreational use of marijuana - as long as you're 21 or 
older, according to Tuesday night election returns.

"The marijuana initiative is a higher margin than I thought it would 
be," said Ashland state Rep. Peter Buckley. "The time has come to 
have a legal, well regulated system that brings marijuana into the mainstream."

With nearly 75 percent of the statewide vote counted, Ballot Measure 
91 was ahead 54.2 percent to 45.8 percent, or 590,768 to 499,498.

In Jackson County, voters were approving the measure 53 percent, or 
37,602 votes, to 47 percent, or 33,729, in returns released just 
before midnight Tuesday.

Colorado and Washington previously legalized recreational marijuana, 
and voters in the District of Columbia Tuesday night appeared to be 
giving overwhelming support to legalization.

Under Oregon's Ballot Measure 91, adults 21 and older could possess 
up to eight ounces of dried marijuana, grow four plants, and have one 
pound of edible products, 72 ounces of liquid pot products and an 
ounce of hashish.

Public use of marijuana would be banned, and it would remain a felony 
to sell marijuana to minors. Current driving under the influence laws 
would still apply to marijuana users. Employers could still impose 
drug-free workplace rules.

The proposal calls for legalization by July 1 and requires the state 
Liquor Control Commission to adopt rules by Jan. 1, 2016, for retail 
marijuana outlets.

The measure would set a tax rate of $35 an ounce. The state would 
collect the tax. After administrative costs, 35 percent of the tax 
revenues would go to state and local police departments. Another 25 
percent would go to drug treatment and mental health programs. The 
remaining 40 percent would go to schools.

Several local cities and Jackson County have passed additional taxes, 
which are expressly not allowed under Ballot Measure 91.

Buckley said he doesn't think the Legislature will allow the extra 
taxes because the higher price could encourage a black market for marijuana.

"It is very ironic that these cities that didn't want regulated 
marijuana dispensaries somehow changed their philosophy and 
policies," Buckley said.

In one section of Measure 91, it states: "No county or city of this 
state shall impose any fee or tax." Another section states: "(the 
state law) shall be paramount and superior to and shall fully replace 
and supersede any and all municipal charter enactments or local 
ordinances inconsistent with it."

Medical marijuana advocate Lori Duckworth criticized communities such 
as Medford that have taken a hard line against marijuana but then 
decided to put a tax in place just in case Ballot Measure 91 passed.

She cited Medford in particular, which created a permanent moratorium 
on medical marijuana dispensaries and shut down her dispensary.

"Now that they want their slice of the pie is shameful," she said.

Other cities that decided not to have a moratorium while creating 
taxes should be commended, she said.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia in July dismissed 
racketeering and money-laundering charges against Duckworth and her 
husband, Leland A. Duckworth, after a highly publicized raid on their 
medical marijuana dispensary in May 2013.

Mejia found the Duckworths each guilty of a single count of felony 
delivery of marijuana as part of a plea bargain. A previous 
indictment against Lori Duckworth on another 22 charges was 
dismissed, and a 27-count indictment against her husband was also dismissed.

Duckworth said she thinks it's only a matter of time before marijuana 
tasting rooms open up in Jackson County, similar to the kind of 
tasting rooms at wineries.

Medford Councilor Daniel Bunn said the passage of Ballot Measure 91 
doesn't change much in the short term for Medford, though he said it 
will likely allow for more backyard marijuana gardens.

"I'll be looking at how Medford voted and how my ward, in particular, 
voted," he said.

He said he thinks residents are still divided over the issue, and 
he's not sure what steps the council might take in light of the 
passage of Measure 91.

"It's one step, but I don't know if it settles the debate," he said.

The council will likely have to deal with nuisance issues regarding marijuana.

"Our goal will continue to be how to govern and make Medford a nice 
place to live," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom