Supporters of marijuana legalization in Oregon failed to get the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act(OCTA) on the ballot this year, but now another path appears to be opening. State Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) has announced he will introduce a legalization bill. He said he expected a hearing in February.
Buckley told the Portland Medical Marijuana Examiner he was using OCTA as a starting point because it was "a good proposal." He said that with budget concerns and "the desire to make progress on this," the OCTA proposal was something for the legislature to consider.
OCTA would set up an Oregon Cannabis Commission to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana -- but not hemp, which would be legal and unregulated. The commission would license commercial growers and processors, which would sell their product to the commission, which in turn would retail it in commission stores. Cultivation and possession for non-commercial use by adults would not be regulated.
Whether Rep. Buckley actually introduces the bill remains to be seen, and its fate in the legislature is murky. But OCTA activists aren't just sitting around waiting for the politicians to set matters right; they are already gearing up for an effort to put OCTA on the ballot in 2012.
It looks like, one way or another, Oregon is vying to be one of the first states to cross the finish line in the decades-long marathon to end pot prohibition.