Oregon: Marijuana Initiative for 2012 Ballot
By Susan Gager, KEZI
EUGENE, Ore. -- Just months ago, a marijuana dispensary measure failed on the ballot in Oregon. Now the push is on to legalize the drug across the board.
The creator of the new initiative wants marijuana to be taxed just like cigarettes and liquor. He and its supporters say it would generate millions for the state. But does it have any chance of passing? That depends on who you ask.
"I think that it's time for the nation to take the demonization out of marijuana," said Phillip Allen, family nurse practitioner.
That's what the director of the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation intends to do with a new initiative to get marijuana legalized in the state.
"It really does relieve a lot of pain and it can really help a lot of people," said Eliza Williams, student.
The executive director of the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation says if it were taxed like cigarettes and liquor, it could generate millions of dollars in revenue for the state's general fund.
"Alcohol revenue brings in about $75 million. It will create lots of new jobs, and create all these new industries. We think it'll create billions and billions of dollars in the long run," said Paul Stanford, Hemp & Cannabis Foundation Executive Director.
Proponents also argue that marijuana isn't nearly as dangerous as cigarettes and alcohol.
"Right now alcohol and tobacco are legal and they've killed hundreds and thousands of people," said medical marijuana user Marcia Williams.
The change of law could put medical marijuana practitioners out of a job, but Allen supports the petition based on principal.
"We're talking about thousands and thousands of people who stand to benefit from the law change," Allen said.
But not everybody is ready for the change.
"It's really bad because I feel like people will get addicted to it. It's like cigarettes," said Thamer Alsulaiman.
"Typically people that are smoking marijuana become more apathetic and they lose their desire to get out, work and accomplish things," said Wayne Turner.
The director of the initiative is gaining support in Portland where the Hemp & Cannabis Foundation is based.
Stanford still needs 90,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, and that could mean reaching out to a more conservative population.