Vote Yes on Measure 80

Albert Kaufman

For the fun of it, let's vote for Measure 80 this Fall

Vote Yes on Measure 80

Vote Yes on Measure 80 - The Cannabis Tax Act

I went to a screening of Legalize It - "A new documentary film about prop 19 - The campaign to legalize Marijuana in California," yesterday at the Clinton Street Theater. The screening was a benefit for Measure 80 which Amanda Rain, of the campaign, wrote so well about earlier in her guest column on BlueOregon.

Seeing the movie awoke in me the urge to share something I'd written a little while ago in support of Measure 80. In Legalize It, I watched as people got brave and worked hard for their convictions. Amanda also reminded us in the Q&A after the film that it's going to take many of us coming out of the closet (which may be painful at times) in order for progress to be made - just like in other rights movements of the past. The campaign in California was a huge effort - involving millions of dollars and a huge anti-19 effort that worked hard to keep people scared.

Luckily, this year's Measure 80 campaign has not seen that level of push-back - and has a chance of passing. I think that would be a good thing. Here are my reasons.

What noone wants to mention about marijuana is that for many of us it's fun. Right? If you've ever smoked it, you've possibly had a good time - heck, the Beatles all smoked marijuana and look what great music they made. In the film a speaker at the National Press Club asked for anyone who had not tried marijuana (in the audience of a couple thousand journalists) to raise their hand. Not one hand went up. It was a poignant moment - as were the many where the NAACP, churches, labor unions and others stood up and took tough stands in favor of legalization.

If we believe that marijuana is medicine, and I do, then of course people should be allowed to use it freely. We allow people to do many dangerous things in our society - drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, for instance, and yet, we stop them from smoking a plant which has a lot of positive properties. Not one person has died from smoking pot - try saying that for alcohol or tobacco.

Besides all of the corporations which have made products that hemp could compete with if not replace, completely, there is our society's puritan background which seems to want us to stop dancing, stop loving who we'd like to - how we'd like to, and to stop having fun.

I like fun. I always have. I was raised by a guy who purposely spoke to strangers just to see what was behind the mask, under the shell. Usually, this led and continues to lead to interesting experiences for him and me - but we all know this is not the norm. Most people are uncomfortable being approached in this way - but once the interaction starts, fun often ensues - because when you overcome or challenge embarrassment, laughter ensues - it's the way our bodies work.

I try to live a fun life and I also travel to places that are fun - Burning Man, for instance. I have gone to Burning Man for 12 years - yes, for the art. Yes, for the amazing road trip into the Oregon Outback which is one of the most beautiful places on earth - but also for the chance to meet with others who like to have a good time in one of the biggest fun times on Earth. And I have seen the light, and drunk the cool-aide. Multiple times. I tell you, as many others before me have written - there is nothing wrong and everything right with getting out there and shaking it.

So, if we want to stay in our shells and keep to ourselves, that's fine - but let's not mandate it as a society - lets encourage those who'd like to break out of their shells to do so - and this may lead to more fun. Are you against fun? Or, are you ready for some :)

So, just for the fun of it, let's vote in favor of Measure 80 this Fall. Give those who need marijuana to ease their pain an easier time of getting their medicine. Give those who'd like to make paper, cloth, and food products out of industrial hemp new business opportunities. This would be a huge boost for the farmers of Oregon. Let's allow those of us who use marijuana responsibly and safely a chance to do so without doing something illegal.

Legalizing marijuana will have so many positive effects on our society - lessening the power of drug cartels; giving people more freedom; and relaxing some of the stress in our society and yes, adding in a few more giggles.

For the fun and sense of it, I encourage you to vote yes on Measure 80 this Fall.

10.22.12 - UPDATE - there will be phone-banking at the campaign office, and from home - find out more, here

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    Actually, marijuana makes me paranoid and withdrawn, haven't smoked it for decades. But clearly it is as fun for many as alcohol and on the whole much less dangerous in my view. The relentless linking of marijuana to "hard drugs" is so stupid, when clearly it is much more comparable to alcohol except probably less likely to be addictive.

    Mainly I am for legalizing marijuana because of the racism with which the drug laws are enforced, particularly at the levels of police and prosecutorial discretion.

    However I voted against M20 because the agency meant to regulate it is put in the control of the industry. I don't believe in that. It would be like putting the OLCC under the control of the beer and wine distributors and the Restaurant Association.

    Also I don't know how to evaluate the consequences of the requirement that the state pay not only to defend the law against the Feds if need be (which it should) but pay the legal costs of individuals prosecuted for pot by the Feds. That is potentially enormous and really a separate kind of issue.

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      You do realize that the commission structure can be changed (even immediately) if desired, right?

      Further, you do realize that the OLCC is often considered one of the most corrupt commissions in the state of Oregon, as well?

      The OLCC is 4 citizens that each represent a congressional district in Oregon and then one rep from the food and beverage industry.

      OCTA's OCC could be constructed like that - but if that structure is considered "the most corrupt" - why would we model it?

      Why not model a much more effective board - the Board of Pharmacy, for instance, that is completely made up of (you guessed it) Pharmacists (If this was marijuana, it would be the equivalent of staffing it with the "drug-pushers"):

      In the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, "Five of these members are licensed pharmacists and two are representatives of the public."

      The primary difference is that there is no requirement that the OCC commission be staffed by growers and processors (as is often claimed by opponents). Instead, we simply allow the people directly affected by the regulations to have a say in who crafts those regulations.

      But it can be changed at any moment - as i said - our legislature will meet before this will all be implemented. That isn't really a good reason to vote no on such an important issue.

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        Nothing corrupt about the structure per se. If it's corrupt, the corruption comes from something else, perhaps the methods of choice? (I am not sure what you mean by corrupt here).

        How can it "be changed immediately"? Why not get it right to start?

        Putting the industry in charge of its own regulation is an inherently corrupt structure that builds in a massive conflict of interest. We generally try to fight against "regulatory capture" by regulated industries, often with pretty limited success. Building pre-captured regulation doesn't make sense to me.

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        A professional board is different from an industry regulation board.

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    I agree that a sensible legalization that would help end the drug war and remove income from the cartels would be a good thing. M80 is not the sensible legalization. It is a crazy mishmash apparently written when the authors were stoned.

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      Hi John, it would be great if you could detail out what you're referring to here. My sense is that the initiative language was quite well thought through. Specifics? Thanks.

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        Albert, it's worth noting that serious marijuana legalization funders are funding the campaigns in Washington and Colorado - but skipping Oregon.

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          Sure, it's worth noting that "serious" legalization funders chose to not contribute to M80. However, the fact remains that M80 beats the hell out of the status quo.

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          Most of the money coming to Oregon this year is going to candidate races, like we saw last Spring in the AG race.

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        1. If illegal growers now may tons of money, that M80 supporters want to tax like crazy, to pay for a regulatory regime, why would those growers suddenly decide that they'd like to make a lot less money?
        2. The federal government is going to go after growers, period. Who is going to officially register as a grower (and pay taxes), when they'll basically be saying to the federal government "here I am!"
        3. This is really all about whether the federal government reclassifies marijuana, so it's more like a prescription drug, and not like heroin. M80 advocates want this fight with the feds to prove a point; I don't think Oregon should be (a) paying to fight the federal government about marijuana, or (b) taking up legislative time trying to fix a mess of a measure.
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          1. I don't care about the Cartel growers currently running the industry, I care about the Oregon farmers who need the Billions of dollars that those Cartel growers are currently taking out of Oregon's economy under the current model.
          2. If the federal government is "going to go after the growers" why aren't they going after the 60,000 medical growers, who are already on a registry list?
          3. The federal gopvernment is already considering a change - the Supreme Court heard arguments last Tuesday in ASA's Reschedule petition.And this is how Alcohol Prohibition was ended as well; State by State.
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      So you think that the status quo is better than a "crazy mishmash?" Please explain.

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    We've got to find a way to take drug use away from the underground economy and the money away from the Mexican drug cartels and gangsters. Marijuana is a good place to start.

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    Wait, pot's not legal in Oregon in the year 2012? Seriously, who cares about the details at this point? Just legal the stuff already and we'll learn as we go and amend the articles of the measure to do the thing that should make the referendum, ah...pass the ballot...and...umm. Yeah.

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      Under an ounce is a violation, which is why no casual users of marijuana are in jail in Oregon. As on opponent sagely put it: "this is a solution in search of a problem."

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        You're not actually inferring that marijuana prohibition isn't a "problem" because "casual users" aren't in jail?

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          I'm not inferring, I'm stating. The chief sponsor says that the State of Oregon spends $60M per year on marijuana enforcement (he's even stupid enough to put this false statement in his "pro" piece in the voter's guide), which is just false. But in response, yes, I think it's relevant that in fact, casual users are not subject to enforcement, prosecution, etc.: we're not going to save money by not prosecuting or jailing users, because we aren't spending that kind of money.

          When pushed on this issue at the City Club debate -- I think Marquis said only 10 people in prison in Oregon had sentences that were in any way related to marijuana -- Paul Stanford had no answer. He also as much as conceded that this measure was really just a way to spoil for a fight with the feds. He didn't explain why anyone would go public and pay taxes, when the feds have announced that they're going after people for growing and distribution. In short, when the time came to give answers to serious questions, the proponent of the measure had nothing to say.

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            What about all the money that the State spends on drug testing? Or all the people who are in jail for parole violation for testing positive? Happens all the time. Sure, less than an ounce doesn't get you jail time, but more than an ounce is a felony - no misdemeanor in between.

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            Jonathan, there is a problem... Measure 80 is the solution.

            A couple of years ago I was selected as a juror in the city of Newport. A young man of about 22 years old was charged with Possession, Intent to Sell and Intent to Manufacture Marijuana.

            Very briefly, let's talk about current Oregon laws: Possessing slightly MORE than an ounce of marijuana is a big deal that may be punishable with up to 10 Years in prison.

            If you have a couple of ounces of marijuana, and have the misfortune of having a couple of empty zip-lock baggies next to this stash, it is considered manufacturing. If the state of Oregon is able to pin a Manufacturing charge on a suspect, that suspect is facing up to 20 years in prison. For comparison's sake, Child Molesters in Oregon often get 6-8 years in prison when they are convicted.

            Getting the picture?

            About 56% of Americans (a majority) now believe that Marijuana should be legalized. Do you think the same percentage of people believe that Molesting Children should be legalized?

            I didn't think so.

            So, back to my story about the guy on trial.

            Yeah, he was a real bad-ass. Basically, he was a 22 year old slacker, who liked to play video games, hang out with his friends, smoke pot, and to make extra money he thought it'd be okay to dabble in buying and selling pot to his pals. The only problem was one of his pals turned out to be a snitch and ratted him out to the Lincoln County Interagency Narcotics Team (LINT).

            These guys have some money. They also have a mandate to justify the money they're receiving to fight the "War on Drugs". They show up at the slacker's house one day at 5 in the morning, bust in his door with a battering ram, and hogtie this desperado. Our 22 year old slacker is crying now. They confiscate his stash, his money, and his scales and baggies. On the way to jail, the cops let him know that he could get 10 years for possession, 10 years for intent to sell, and a whopping 20 years for manufacturing. 40 years in prison (IN OREGON!!!).

            I did rally my fellow jurors. We found this young man Not Guilty for manufacturing, and Not Guilty for intent to sell, but we had to nail him for the possession. I never learned what he was sentenced to. I hope it wasn't the full 10 years. It'd seem like such an injustice for this dumb young guy to spend more time in prison than the 40 year old English teacher who molested his 12 year old student.

            Just vote yes on Measure 80 and let's end this insanity against cannabis.

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    Thank you for all the great discussion, people.

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    I think this group of women speaking on the issue on a recent visit to Salem is worth sharing.

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    While Oregon has decriminalized an ounce or less of cannabis, the $500-$1,000 fine and loss of a driver's license for 6 months (even when the possession didn't even occur in a car!) has a disproportionate impact upon the poor. If someone buys an ounce that happens to be 28.2 grams instead of just 28, then they are guilty of a felony, what sense does that make?

    Ending cannabis prohibition will save Oregon money, create jobs, generate revenue and allow us to better prioritize our law enforcement resources. Please vote YES on Measure 80!

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