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Will Oregon Be the Third State To Legalize Recreational Cannabis?

A welcome to Oregon sign greets many people seeking marijuana in this newly legalized state.

Politics

Will Oregon Be the Third State To Legalize Recreational Cannabis?

With legal sales in Washington expected this summer, Oregon finds itself in an interesting predicament. With its largest city, Portland, bordering Washington State (where cannabis is legal for adult use), preventing adult use of cannabis will grow more ineffective and potentially more costly for the state to regulate.

But it seems that Oregonians don’t plan to wait much longer to add Oregon to the list of states with adult use legalization of cannabis. In November of last year, Oregon introduced Initiative Petition 37, which would bring to vote the legalization of cannabis.

Attorney Michael McNichols of Canby appealed this initiative, sending it to the Supreme Court of Oregon for further review. In the meantime, pro-legalization Oregonians have decided not to wait for the Supreme Court to rule and introduced Initiative Petition 53, which has not had an appeal issued.

Supporters of I-37 and I-53 are moving forward now in collecting signatures to get the Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act (CRTMIHA) on the ballot this November which encompasses both initiatives.

But wait, Oregon isn’t finished yet. Apparently, there is another set of initiative petitions, I-21 and I-22, which may also find themselves on the ballot this fall.

The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) would create the Oregon Cannabis Commission (OCC), which would regulate the cultivation and sale of cannabis, but in a different way. CRTMIHA calls for taxation of the sales of cannabis that is more in line with Colorado’s laws while OCTA takes a new approach.

Instead of taxation of cannabis, OCTA’s plan is to allow the state government to hold a monopoly on cannabis sales. This format was already tested and failed in the 2012 election, but still managed to get 47 percent of the population to say yes.

With some tweaks in the language, mainly that growers would not have five of the seven OCC seats, OCTA has a strong chance of passing. OCTA would be extremely profitable for the state. For each dollar spent on cannabis, the state would receive 85 cents and the contractors providing the services would receive 15 cents.

If OCTA were to pass and the State of Oregon had full control over sales, Oregon could be putting itself in a tough position with the federal government.

By having the OCC, a state government entity, sell cannabis, it would come in direct violation of federal laws. It is unlikely that the federal government would prosecute, especially with the recent news that the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is considering rescheduling cannabis, but if the federal government decided to try and stop cannabis sales, the state legislature could quickly amend the law to require contractors process sales.

Time will tell if the initiatives will make it on the ballot or perhaps which ones will make it. But, looking at the previous voting record of Oregon and the choices laid before them for the upcoming election, it seems the state is ready for legalization. The question now is, which direction with they take? Will they follow Colorado, or their own path?

What state do you think will legalize cannabis next? Tell us in the comments below!

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