Legislation has been introduced in Oregon by the House Committee on Revenue that would legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.
House Bill 3371 would establish a regulatory system, similar to the one in place in the state for alcohol, for the cultivation, production, and sale of cannabis to adults over 21. Adults would be allowed to possess up to 24 ounces of usable marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes, in addition to purchasing it from regulated retail outlets. You can read the full text of the legislation here.
If you needed any further proof that elections have consequences, we now have a total of seven legalization bills pending in state legislatures, whereas we rarely had even one in previous years. The voters in Colorado and Washington set the ball of legalization rolling down hill and it seems unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
If you live in Oregon, please click here to quickly and easily contact your elected officials in support of this legislation. If you don’t live in Oregon, click here and see if there is any pending marijuana law reform legislation in your state.
In November 2012, two states legalized marijuana. Help us win the rest. Consider making a donation to support NORML’s advocacy work today.
I was on a radio show this past weekend debating a prohibitionist who still believes that medical cannabis is little more than a hoax…a ‘camel’s nose under the tent’ to trick the American public into legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes. I’ve heard this individual exclaim numerous times over the years that he would not give cannabis to a loved one who needed it, because, he still clings to the myth that cannabis in its natural form is a ‘dangerous narcotic’…he even claims cannabis is toxic to humans (despite the drug having a lethal dose rating of fifty…the safest indicator measurement of a drug’s lack of toxicity).
Someone who was listening to the show but could not get on the air to address the prohibitionist’s anti-pot prevarications forwarded me an email and link to a recent CNN video of a young boy in Oregon lawfully using medical cannabis for his autism. Now this is not the first time NORML’s seen credible information about how cannabis can help children with autism, to wit:
In 2009 Brown University writing instructor Marie Myung-Ok Lee’s essay on her successfully treating her autistic son J. with cannabis broke this new ground for parents trying to raise children during both the era of cannabis prohibition and the re-discovery of cannabis as a valuable, affordable, safe and non-toxic medicine.
In fact, Marie’s frank and daring essay about children, autism and cannabis has spawned numerous other related articles, TV interviews and videos. Many of them archived by NORML here.
The KMVT video below will be added to this growing archive…it is hard to watch, it made me cry thinking about 1) how truly difficult life must be for Alexander Echols, 2) how enduring and loving his parents are, 3) how ignorant (and at times extreme) prohibitionists are in trying to ban all human interface with the quite wonderful cannabis plant and 4) how blessed we are as humans to know of and have a relationship with this remarkable plant species.
Whether one has an evolutionary or ‘intelligent design’ point of view regarding the origins of life, the relationship between cannabis and humans is an indisputably ancient one, and for many humans today a genuine ‘quality of life’ issue that is not at all served well under a prohibition regime.
Voters in Colorado and Washington on Election Day in favor of ballot measures that remove criminal and civil penalties for the adult possession of cannabis. The votes mark the first time ever that voters have decided at the ballot box to abolish cannabis prohibition.
In Colorado, 55 percent of voters decided in favor of Amendment 64, which allows for the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants by those persons age 21 and over. Longer-term, the measure seeks to establish regulations governing the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retailers. Initial returns show the measure passing with 54 percent support.
In Washington, approximately 55 percent of voters decided in favor of I-502, which regulates the production and sale of limited amounts of marijuana for adults. The measure also removes criminal penalties specific to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use. Initial returns indicate that 55 percent of voters backed the measure.
State lawmakers in Colorado initially prohibited the possession of cannabis in 1917. Washington lawmakers initially outlawed the plant in 1923.
Commenting on the historic votes, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 provide adult cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections. Until now, no state law has defined cannabis as a legal commodity. Some state laws do provide for a legal exception that allows for certain qualified patients to possess specific amounts of cannabis as needed. But, until today, no state in modern history has classified cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults.”
Armentano continued: “The passage of these measures strikes significant blow to federal cannabis prohibition. Like alcohol prohibition before it, marijuana prohibition is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police. Alcohol prohibition fell when a sufficient number of states enacted legislation repealing the state’s alcohol prohibition laws. With state police and prosecutors no longer engaging in the federal government’s bidding to enforce an unpopular law, the federal government had little choice but to abandon the policy altogether. Today, history begins to repeat itself.”
Separate marijuana law reform measures proved to be equally popular among voters. In Massachusetts, 63 percent of voters approved Question 3, which eliminates statewide criminal and civil penalties related to the possession and use of up to a 60-day supply of cannabis by qualified patients. It also requires the state to create and regulate up to 35 facilities to produce and dispense cannabis to approved patients. Massachusetts is the 18th state since 1996 to authorize the physician-recommended use of cannabis.
In Michigan, an estimated 65 percent of Detroit voters approved Measure M, which removes criminal penalties pertaining to the possession on private property of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults over age 21.
A statewide ballot measure to legalize the therapeutic use of cannabis in Arkansas appears to have narrowly failed by a vote of 49 percent to 51 percent. In Montana, a referendum that sought to ease legislative restrictions on the state’s medical marijuana law also failed. Oregon’s Measure 80, which sought to allow for the state-licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to adults, garnered only 45 percent of the popular vote.
The ballot measures in Colorado and Washington will take effect once the vote totals have been formally ratified, a process that typically takes up to 30 days.
NORML will provide additional updates on various other local measures throughout the day. Stay tuned to the NORML blog for more information.
Despite trailing in the polls for most of the previous months, Oregon advocates and reformers were able to close the support gap for their marijuana legalization initiative to a respectable 45% in favor and 55% opposed (with 55% of the vote counted). Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to push Measure 80 over the top.
What this effort did, however, was elevate the discourse in regards to marijuana legalization in Oregon and set the stage for future efforts. We would like to thank all of those who dedicated countless hours into supporting this reform effort in Oregon and will be following up in regards to the future of marijuana law reform in the state.
Why Election Day Marks the Beginning of the End of Marijuana Prohibition
The criminalization of cannabis is a policy that has been in place federally since 1937 and on the state level, in many instances, long before that. Yet, it is a policy that fails to withstand serious scrutiny and possesses only limited public support. Today, a majority of Americans espouse ending America’s nearly century-long, failed experiment with cannabis prohibition and replacing it with a system of limited legalization and regulation. Recent national polls by Gallup , Rasmussen, The Huffington Post , and Angus Reid show that more Americans now support legalizing the adult use of cannabis than support maintaining its prohibition. Now it is time for a state to make this sentiment a reality.
Similar to alcohol prohibition, cannabis prohibition is a federal policy that largely relies on state and local enforcement. How did federal alcohol prohibition come to an end? Simple. When a sufficient number of states – led by New York in 1923 (several other states, including Colorado, later followed) – enacted legislation repealing the state’s alcohol prohibition laws. With states no longer doing the federal government’s bidding to enforce an unpopular law, the Feds eventually had no choice but to abandon the policy altogether.
Here’s to history repeating itself.
Read the full commentary here.