OREGON: In 2012, we recommended voters reject a ballot measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana because it was badly written and likely to create more problems than it solved. This year, a group of legalization advocates have put forward a very detailed, carefully worded initiative that has none of the drawbacks of the 2012 measure.We think Ballot Measure 91 strikes the right balance between Colorado’s overly permissive law and Washington state’s excessively restrictive statute. Voters should approve it.
Public opinion has been steadily shifting in favor of legalizing personal recreational use of marijuana, to the point that observers believe Measure 91 is likely to pass on Nov. 4. We are not supporting the measure because we want to jump on the winning bandwagon, but because we think it will clarify the confusing status of marijuana in Oregon.
Oregon decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana decades ago. A sizable portion of the state’s residents use the drug recreationally — more than 10 percent by some estimates. It’s widely accepted that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, but it remains illegal.
Under the status quo, Oregonians use marijuana they buy illegally. Some of them drive after smoking it. Criminals and drug cartels get all the financial benefit. Police agencies spend time and money chasing growers, dealers and users, resources they could devote to more serious crime.