Most surprising answer? Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), a retired Portland police officer and chairman of House Judiciary:
Barker doesn’t want stoned people behind the wheel, but otherwise he says pot is no public threat, and he’s ready to roll on legalizing.
“I’m fine with that,” he says. “I don’t mind spending money to lock up violent people, but marijuana just ain’t even close.”
OK, that covers the criminal justice angle. What about the medical angle? Cue Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), former chair of the Dept. of Public Health at OHSU:
Greenlick says he doesn’t see the logic in treating cannabis differently from tobacco or booze. “It doesn’t seem to me to make a hell of a lot of sense,” he says. “If we can get a serious discussion going, I think [legalization] is possible.”
But despite some high-profile supporters, marijuana legalization was barely a blip in the 2009 session. According to WW, a ballot measure is headed our way:
[Legalization advocates] plan to put the issue on the 2010 ballot with an initiative called the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act.
If they can gather 87,000 signatures to put it on the ballot, and voters then approved the initiative, the act would set up the Oregon Cannabis Control Commission. The new agency would sell pot to buyers 21 and over, with 90 percent of the profit going to the state’s general fund and 10 percent for drug treatment.
Activists last put a legalization measure on the ballot in 1986. It got just 26 percent support. But after decades fighting to legalize pot in Oregon, they believe the public has come around.
What do you think? Should Oregon legalize marijuana? Will Oregon voters approve the measure? Will a strong fiscal impact - as much as $200 million in new revenue and reduced criminal justice costs - make a difference to voters?