Marijuana would be treated like liquor in Oregon if legalization measure passes
Category: Legalization | Posted on Fri, October, 19th 2012 by THCFinder
Talking over a car speakerphone, Oregon's marijuana impresario Paul Stanford describes what life would be like if his ballot measure to legalize weed wins next month.
"It would be just like liquor," says Stanford, who has tried for years to end what he considers an ill conceived and damaging pot prohibition. If you're 21 or older, you walk into a state-licensed store and buy a pack of pre-rolled joints, or a baggie if you're looking to buy in bulk, or marijauna-laced food, or a bottle of cannabis extract.
The state-licensed agent rings up the sale, which includes a state profit margin, and you're on your way to getting legally high.
"I don't like that term 'recreational,'" Stanford says about the most likely customers of such stores. "I like 'adult social use.' We don't talk about recreational alcohol use. It's pejorative."
Whatever the label, Measure 80 would dramatically change the way the leafy drug is grown, bought, sold and enforced in Oregon. In addition to buying at state marijuana outlets, adults would be free to grow and use marijuana at will, whether for medical reasons or to relax after work.
How does that Country Joe McDonald song go? "Must be a hippie's dream."
More like a nightmare, say state law enforcement officials, who are the primary opponents of the measure.
"From a pure policy standpoint, I don't want to introduce yet another intoxicant and open the spigot full blast so everyone can get stoned all the time," says Josh Marquis, district attorney for Clatsop County and a designated spokesman for the opposition. "Look at what a dreadful job we've done keeping alcohol from being abused by adults, and worse yet, by kids."
Marquis says the most salient argument against the measure is that pretty much anyone in Oregon who wants to smoke marijuana can -- and does.
"It's easier to get a medical marijuana card than it is to get a driver's license," Marquis says. Some 57,000 residents have a certificate to use medical marijuana. And even without one, anyone caught with less than an ounce of pot is issued an infraction -- akin to a speeding ticket.
Given the state's loose laws surrounding marijuana, few people end up in jail, much less prison, for using it, he says. State corrections statistics appear to back his statement.
Of the 14,200 inmates in Oregon prisons, fewer than one in five are in for any type of drug-related charge, says Liz Craig, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections. Of those, 30 are in on drug possession-only convictions, and 10 are marijuana-related. A total of 51 people are in Oregon prisons on marijuana delivery charges, she says.
Such numbers don't stop supporters of legalization from arguing that society has gone overboard tracking down and prosecuting dopers. It's a big part of the case made by one of the most high-profile supporters of Measure 80, former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.
"We're wasting so much time and so much energy and so many people's lives with our current policy," Bradbury says. "We're putting them in jail at the prime of their lives. It's just ridiculous."
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