Oregon has already decriminalized marijuana possession and enacted the second-largest state medical marijuana program in the country, and now some Oregon activists are ready to move to the next level. This week, signature gathering began for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), which would provide for marijuana to be sold in retail stores, among other things.
According to initiative sponsors, the act would provide for "regulating and taxing adult sales; licensing the cultivation of the drug for sale in state-run package stores and adults-only businesses; allowing adults to grow their own and farmers to grow industrial hemp without license; and letting doctors prescribe untaxed cannabis to patients suffering from a variety of illnesses and injuries."
The initiative effort is being led by D. Paul Stanford of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and Madeline Martinez, head of Oregon NORML. Whether other elements of the state's sometimes fractious marijuana community will come on board remains to be seen.
Parts of the community had been in the defensive mode as they prepared to fend off an attack on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) by conservative crime-fighting initiative specialist Kevin Mannix. But Mannix recently took the assault on OMMA off the table, at least for now, and Stanford and Martinez are ready to sail through the breach.
Organizers need 80,000 signatures to put the measure before voters in the November 2010 election. They say the measure will generate millions of dollars a year for the state's general fund through sales to adults. Additional revenues from pot taxes would go to drug treatment programs.