If you just listen to just one side of the debate to legalize marijuana, you'd think it was a wonder plant.
A common argument is that marijuana is safer than the legal drug alcohol. But do facts back up that assertion?
“Marijuana is safer than alcohol,” Madeleine Martinez of Oregon’s pro-legalization organization NORML said, “no one's ever died of a lethal dose of marijuana.”
Mark Herer, owner of the The Third Eye Shoppe, a classic “head shop” located on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland, said he’s “met a lot of screwed up people in my day, I've met a lot of potheads in my day… most of the potheads I know are not screwed up people.”
Washington state lawmaker Mary Lou Dickerson, 63, is pushing for legalization and equates current marijuana laws to alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s.
“We're treating marijuana like we treated alcohol during prohibition, and it doesn't make sense,” she said.
PORTLAND, Ore. - While state budgets in Oregon and Washington face gaping holes, advocates of legalizing marijuana say taxing pot can help fill those holes.
Madeline Martinez, Oregon’s executive director for NORML, the national organization that’s pushing to reform marijuana laws, says she sees a golden opportunity to convince people that legalizing marijuana could be a good thing after all.
“Why don’t we capture the revenue that’s just being lost to the criminal market in many regards and bring it to the people. We’re the ones who deserve it,” she says.
Her group estimates the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, if passed by voters, would generate $140 million a year in revenue, 90 percent of which would go to the state’s general fund. The rest would go primarily to drug abuse treatment programs, Martinez says.
She calls it “Cannicare” because “we would be using cannabis money to pay for health care,” she says.
Pot appears to be back on the docket in 2010, as four states debate legalizing marijuana and the impacts such a move could have on businesses and the economy. Business owners are concerned that legalization will make them subject to new discriminatory lawsuits for not hiring workers who use marijuana. Some states however are hopeful that the legalization and the sale of marijuana will bring new tax revenue to the state during difficult economic times.
In Oregon, the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and Oregon NORML have finished gathering the 1,000 sponsorship signatures needed for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2010 (OCTA) to be placed on the ballot. The OCTA, would set aside two percent of the profits from the sale of cannabis in cannabis-only stores for two state commissions that promote industrial hemp biodiesel, fiber, protein and oil. The measure would legalize the sale, possession and personal private cultivation of marijuana.
Green is their signature color. Medicinal marijuana gardeners throughout the state of Oregon enjoyed a plentiful harvest last fall, and look to 2010 as a year of growth, and change.
By Bonnie King, Salem-News
(SALEM, Ore.) - “After living through arrests in the past for growing marijuana, to be able to do it legally, it’s almost entirely stress-free compared to when it was illegal. So to be able to help the people that need this - it warms our hearts,” said Paul Stanford, Executive Director of The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation. The fear of breaking the law has stopped most people for seven decades from considering marijuana, or cannabis, to treat their ailments. That is no longer the rule of the day, as this medical marijuana garden clearly proves.
"It took courageous people to stand up and question the prohibition against alcohol." Rick Steves, Marijuana Conversation
By D. Paul Stanford & Michael Bachara, Hemp News Staff
Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and Oregon NORML have finished gathering the 1000 sponsorship signatures needed for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2010 (OCTA) & Oregon Cannabis Tolerance Act 2010 (OCTA Light) petitions. These were turned in to the Oregon Secretary of State's office on September 21, 2009. We are currently waiting for official ballot titles from the state and should have them in the next few weeks. After polling, we will begin circulating one of the petitions across Oregon. We will need 100,000 valid signatures by July, 2, 2010 to qualify for the November 2010 election.
Activists had previously filed OCTA in 2008, but withdrew it when polling showed antipathy about the previous version placing cannabis sales in existing state liquor stores. Activists went back to the drawing board and came up with two versions.