Disappointingly, yesterday Oregonians voted down Measure 80, which would have decriminalized marijuana and allowed its sale in state-sponsored stores. But Washington and Colorado approved their own marijuana legalization measures.
Kudos to the Portland Oregonian editorial board for recognizing that marijuana tourism across the Columbia river from this state is going to enlarge Washington's government revenues.
In an online editorial published today, which likely will be in the print paper tomorrow, the editorial board said "Oregon lawmakers should take up marijuana legalization."
Yes, the failure of Oregon's marijuana legalization measure Tuesday must have disappointed its sponsors and supporters. But how sad can they be, really? Even as voters in Oregon were saying "no" to Measure 80, those in Washington were saying "yes" to I-502, which may soon make a dependable supply of legally obtainable pot available within a short drive of downtown Portland. We're going to need a new bridge, pronto.
The measure's passage also means something else: The reasons for taking legalization here seriously just got a lot more compelling, which is why Oregon's pot advocates will give voters another go at it before long. And if that's our future, then the Legislature has a role to play, which we'll discuss below.
First, though, consider what Washington's landmark vote means for Oregon at large. Assuming everything goes as planned, Washington's liquor control board will adopt rules by the end of 2013 for the licensing of marijuana producers, processors and retailers. Marijuana stores will proliferate, and people 21 and older will be able to buy up to an ounce at a time. Because Oregonians will be free to buy Washington pot, many will, and they'll drive it right back into Oregon.
And if business booms at Washington's pot shops, as expected? Our neighbor to the north will collect millions of dollars in new "sin" taxes, with much of the money coming from Oregonians who'd be happy to keep their business -- and taxes -- in state if given the opportunity.
Well, that's exactly what I said back in September in my blog post, "Marijuana tourism coming to Washington state?"
I've been wondering, though, what will happen if Washington legalizes marijuana and Oregon doesn't. There's a heck of lot of Oregonians who live within a few hours drive time of the Washington border. And I've heard rumors that quite a few of them use marijuana.
...So far as I can tell -- and my research, of course, has been purely for journalistic blogging purposes -- I-502 legalizes the sale of marijuana to anyone 21 or older who buys it at licensed retail outlets. Not just Washingtonians. Anyone.
...Sure sounds like marijuana tourism could be coming to Washington.
The DUI aspects of I-502 are a bummer to hemp advocates who want to pot-party in the state, but I doubt this would discourage Oregonians from driving up to Washington to purchase an ounce of weed, then driving home to consume it.
This depends on market forces, though. The legal price of marijuana would have to be close to what it can be bought for now, and the quality as good or better. But given these assumptions, why wouldn't Oregonians help out the Washington state budget with some extra tax receipts?
Money that would be leaving Oregon if this state doesn't pass Measure 80, while Washington passes I-502.
Many Oregonians still would be able to buy marijuana legally, just not here. Much of the revenue that would have gone to Oregon state government, $60 million or more according to Measure 80 proponents, would flow to Washington.
Something to think about, Oregon voters. Vote "yes" on Measure 80. Keep Oregon green -- with money that should stay in the state, rather than head into Washington state coffers.
Oregonians are going to keep using marijuana whether or not Measure 80 passes. The only question is whether this state joins Washington in ending the crazy, expensive, irrational prohibition of an herb that is hugely more beneficial than already-legal alcohol.
Measure 80 didn't pass.
But since I-502 did, the Oregonian correctly recognizes that unless our legislature does something, lots of money is going to be legally spent in Washington marijuana stores that could be financing much-needed government services right here in Oregon.