Washington and Colorado may have legalized marijuana first, but Oregon’s marijuana policy reform advocates are striving to ensure that the Beaver State is a close third in bud states. At press time, activists were planning to file two legalization initiatives Wednesday, May 22.
Paul Stanford, a longtime activist who was the primary author of Measure 80 in 2012, says the first initiative is a very simple amendment to Oregon’s Constitution. “It says that people can cultivate marijuana, as long as they’re not endangering others, and use it and possess it and the state can regulate it,” he explains.
The second initiative is a revised version of Measure 80, which garnered 46.9 percent of the vote in 2012 despite criticisms that Stanford says are addressed in the revised version. “The preamble of Measure 80 addressed the science and history of cannabis first. It proved to be a distraction,” he says. “We’ve also put a limit on how much a person can cultivate for their own personal use, where with the other initiative we didn’t put a limit.” The new limit is 24 ounces and 24 plants (in a combination of mature plants and seedlings and starts), which is identical to the restrictions of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. In the revised version, the proposed seven-member Oregon Cannabis Commission would be entirely appointed by the governor instead of partially voted on by marijuana licensees.
Whether the activists go forward with placing the initiatives on the ballot will depend on what the Oregon Legislature does with House Bill 3371, which would also legalize and regulate marijuana. Stanford says that the activists will not go forward with their own initiatives if HB 3371 is passed in the Legislature or referred to voters. But if it isn’t, they will move forward with it as an initiative in addition to the Constitutional amendment and rewritten Measure 80.
There’s a reason for so many simultaneous initiatives. “What we’re going to do,” Stanford says, “is poll to make certain that we have something that we can win.”