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Oregon Marijuana Initiative Hands in Final Signatures

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #742)

Oregon could well be the third state to end up with a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot after supporters of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) said they had handed in more than 165,000 signatures by last Friday's deadline. Marijuana regulation and legalization initiatives have already qualified for the ballot in Colorado and Washington.

The Oregon measure needs 87,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

"We believe we are going to make it easily," said OCTA chief petitioner Paul Stanford at a Salem news conference Friday morning.

But it's still nail-biting time as state election officials can take up to a month to validate signatures, and they have already invalidated signatures handed in earlier at a record rate. At the end of May, OCTA turned in 108,000 signatures, only to have nearly half of them invalidated, a shockingly high percentage of disqualifications.

With only 55,000 valid signatures from that first batch of 108,000, that means OCTA has to come up with 32,000 valid signatures from that second batch of 57,000. If the same rate of invalidation holds, the measure will fall just short.

But last month, Stanford told the Chronicle the OCTA campaign had tightened up its signature gathering in the wake of the high invalidation rate on the early signatures. "We're screening our signatures much better now, we're checking in with every single petitioner. We're closely scrutinizing every incoming sheet," he said.

If OCTA makes the ballot and is approved by voters in November, Oregon would regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and over. The measure would also legalize hemp production in the state.

A second marijuana effort, the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative (OMPI), would have asked Oregon voters to approve a state constitutional amendment to legalize personal cultivation and possession of marijuana. While it, too, appeared to have a good chance of qualifying earlier this year, it too suffered from record high signature invalidation rates.

Because it is a constitutional amendment, it faces a higher hurdle, needing 124,000 valid signatures to qualify. Chief petitioner Robert Wolfe told Reuters this week he did not expect OMPI to make the ballot because of the high number of disqualifications. He told the Chronicle last month he was contemplating legal challenges to the invalidations.

In a month or less, we will know if OCTA has qualified. We could end up with a Western weed legalization trifecta for November.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


not so fast (not verified)

This measure attempts to give the state of Oregon a legal monopoly on cannabis. A new state agency modeled after the OLCC would be created to sell, regulate and tax cannabis. Selling it outside the regulatory scheme would be a felony. This is a terrible idea, and would put state officials in violation of Federal drug laws. We don't need to tax and regulate cannabis in Oregon, we only need to repeal existing prohibition laws.

Sat, 07/07/2012 - 12:08am Permalink
Anonymous123 (not verified)

In reply to by not so fast (not verified)

If the measure passes, the commerce aspect of the initiative MAY place the law in federal conflict, but in regards to the most substantive part, legalization, there is no conflict:  Specifically, a state is always empowered to repeal its own criminal laws and doing so creates no "conflict." It just simply means that marijuana would only be illegal at the federal level and not at the state level.  Therefore, it would be up to the federal government alone to enforce federal law upon individuals.  Individual states always have the power to withdraw their own laws, and the absence of a law does never creates a conflict since there would presumably be no law to conflict with!

Sat, 07/07/2012 - 3:43pm Permalink
Victor_Vicious (not verified)

In reply to by not so fast (not verified)

I agree. The State would be in conflict with the CSA. MPP and others have said get anything before the voters, I disagree. We have paid enough taxes over the 40+ years of the "Modern Drug War". VV

Tue, 07/10/2012 - 7:43am Permalink
saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

In reply to by not so fast (not verified)

Which is a fundamental right. Things have only gotten this far because so many people have pushed for it, and that's not going to stop until people can enjoy their personal marijuana garden in peace. This is a big step in the right direction, and as legalization of use helps it becomes clear to ever more people how extremely less likely cannabis is to lead to violence and grief than alcohol, the argument that's it's ok to make your own alcohol but not to grow your own weed will seem absurd and archaic, and will easily fall in another referendum, if that's necessary.

 If people have the right to gather in a zillion bars in this country despite all the life and death problems those bars cause, then they also have the right to gather in cannabis cafes. Maybe that's not as fundamental as the right to grow your own plants for your own use, but any discrimination that favors alcohol over cannabis is violence promoting and unjust, because alcohol is so vastly more of a problem child.  

Tue, 07/10/2012 - 12:20pm Permalink
DLaun (not verified)

Something does not smell right, The invalidation rate seems way, Way too high, Are we sure they are not invalidating signatures unlawfully just to thwart the attempt to put it on the ballot because they are afraid it will pass, We already know that the Corruption runs deep in most ALL government agencies today and people are losing confidence in our Voting process and quite a few people have stopped voting due to the already exposed fraud in our system, Illegal`s voting, Dead people voting, etc,etc. I say that some kind of investigation needs to be started if there is more than a 50% invalidation rate, Like I said, Something does NOT smell right, and it`s NOT weed!

Sat, 07/07/2012 - 2:44pm Permalink
Anonymous123 (not verified)

For those who plan to vote "no" because you think the initiative contains too much regulation, please remember that small steps are needed because these measures have to appeal to moderate voters.  Restrictive measures must be included to take away the opposition's arguments.  I urge you to vote "yes" because this bill, although not perfect, still represents progress in the right direction.  Amendments can always be made later, but the key is get it legalized first - the alternative is to keep it illegal.

Sat, 07/07/2012 - 3:33pm Permalink
Highlydoubtful (not verified)

I believe the (almost criminally) high invalidation rate is because the state simply doesn't want this initiative on the ballot and the will do whatever they can, including subverting the democratic process, to achieve this end. It's more than unfortunate, it's downright shameful.

Wed, 07/11/2012 - 5:56pm Permalink
not so fast (not verified)

In reply to by Highlydoubtful (not verified)

If this initiative were passed and implemented, our state officials would be charged with Federal drug trafficking crimes. Our current medical marijuana and decriminalization laws are among the best in the nation and I think we should stick with that for the time being.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 3:21pm Permalink

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