Oregonian citizens wanted recreational marijuana but the legislature didn’t. Since we are one of the 26 states that have citizen lawmaking we crafted a marijuana legalization initiative, got it on the ballot, and passed it with a 56 percent majority. That is a pretty wide margin in a world of legal gerrymandering, lobbyists and unlimited corporate funding elections. It was on the 2014 ballot as measure 91 and this November, certain Oregonians will get to vote on it again.
Measure 91 is a 2014 Oregon ballot measure that legalized recreational cannabis for adults. Oregon has already voted to allow recreational sales which got into full swing this year but some municipalities have chosen to opt out of the program. For whatever reasons, these districts wanted to keep cannabis out of their communities despite the huge voter turnout and support of the idea.
Because of how many municipalities have opted out, Oregonians in certain districts like Douglas County, Grant County, Klamath County, and the city of Brownsville get one more chance to show they are serious about making structural changes to how we deal with cannabis as a community.
The new law accomplishes these feats in part due to additional government oversight and extreme regulations paid for by tax funds. The $45 million Oregon is on track to generate through taxing the cannabis industry are a testament to the community good that comes from choosing not to put fellow humans in cages. The millions of dollars that are being generated are also being allocated in very specific ways. The main arbiter of allocation and enforcement is known as the OLCC.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission regulates marijuana like alcohol only with more rules. These rules allow the OLCC to tightly restrict advertising like billboards and banners in places children frequent like schools and places frequented by youth. They also oversee the licensing, regulating, audits and inspections of cultivation and distribution sites. The OLCC is also in charge of ensuring that marijuana products are also not allowed to be imported into or exported out of Oregon.
Perhaps the biggest concession made for opponents of recreational cannabis were the ridiculous purchase limits that were set for recreational and later adjusted for the medical side of sales. These limits ban public use of marijuana and regulate how much can be purchased by a person at one time. Recently the limits that medical patients are allowed to purchase have also been drastically reduced which can make getting enough high doses difficult for many patients.
Even with the strict limits on how much THC a person can buy from a dispensary, it is better than maintaining a failed war that has lasted generations and made more prisoners any other country in human history. Citizens of Grant, Klamath and Douglas counties get to decide if they will benefit from the millions of dollars flooding into the state budget since those who opt out don’t get the added money from recreational sales. Oregonians get to choose whether to send their children to school or prison and a majority of us have chosen school.
And it’s not like people are selling a plant that has lived with humanity longer than corn, wheat or rice on street corners or at schools. This particular agricultural crop requires better security and transparency than almost any industry. There are specific sections of the law that deal with how and when people are allowed to consume, advertise or work with cannabis in regards to children.
Measure 91 prohibits minors from buying, selling, manufacturing, possessing or consuming marijuana. Teens are not going to be getting high through legal channels and there are stiff repercussions including felony charges for selling to a minor. We need to be able to track and prevent the sale of cannabis to children and the only way to do that is to provide a legal framework for the manufacture and distribution of cannabis with checks and balances.
By retaining the established DUI and driving-while-impaired laws, Measure 91 hasn’t added huge costs or faulty tests to daily encounters with law enforcement. It also doesn’t remove the safety protocols we have put in place over the years. The police are more than able to take people who drive while intoxicated to jail and send them through all the legal or substance abuse programs they have available.
Medical patients also had reason to support the legalization of recreational cannabis through Measure 91. The measure has been a benefit to medical marijuana patients who rely on others for their medication. Contained within the law are provisions that improve patients access to safe, secure, reliable, and quality-controlled marijuana. The labeling and testing requirements are some of the strictest in any industry yet still based on scientific and reliable methodology.
People aren’t able to show up to work baked because of recreational legalization either.Measure 91 retains drug-free workplace rules. It also allows landlords to prohibit marijuana use on their property. People hoping to set up a grow room in their rental might be sad but landlords across the state breathed a collective sigh of relief.
An eviction for growing or smoking cannabis could follow a renter for years and prevent them from getting into a place they are otherwise qualified for. Conversely, the cost of repairing a structure after a grow room gone bad can be a heinous cost for landlords. By allowing landlords to make the choice, the state has empowered property owners to cater to the cannabis community if they want without forcing them to.
In the end, regulating and taxing cannabis has had many positive effects. It diverts funds from imprisoning our fellow citizens to enriching them, creates jobs in and around a new/old industry, and pays for state and local services like schools and mental health services. With millions in new taxes filling the state coffers, other states have taken notice. The November vote will be an historic occasion for our country. This may be our final chance to show the world that Americans want to prevent more mass incarceration for a plant that has been part of humanity since our earliest days. Thanks for reading.