Way to go, dude!
An Oregonian (even more, a Salemian!) was first in line when a store selling legal marijuana opened its door yesterday in Vancouver, Washington.
The state on Monday issued its first batch of retail licenses, giving two to establishments in Vancouver. One, New Vansterdam, plans to open Friday. The other, Main Street Marijuana, opened Wednesday in downtown Vancouver.
And standing first in line for a few grams of Washington pot? An Oregonian.
"I know I'm going to be paying way more than I probably should," said Mark Edwards, 42, a tie-dye clad Salem man who arrived at 3:30 a.m. to take his place at the head of the line. "I'm willing to pay more to be part of history."
Understood, Mark. This really was a historic moment.
Back in the 60's, when paranoia about being busted for pot possession was rampant in the San Francisco Bay area where I went to college from 1966-71, none of us stoners could have believed that marijuana would be legal in two states by 2014.
I sure hope -- and expect -- that it will be three states by the end of this year, Oregon having joined Colorado and Washington.
It feels like this will happen.
New Approach Oregon almost certainly has enough signatures to qualify its legalization initiative for the November ballot. The two Paul Stanford-backed marijuana measures have failed to qualify, which is great news: voters would have been confused by competing initiatives trying to do the same thing in different ways.
Washington state has started to reap the financial reward of taxing marijuana sales. Just as with Colorado, citizens here will see that life in our neighbor state to the north hasn't become Reefer Madness with the legalization of an already widely-consumed herb.
It's great to see that New Approach Oregon has found what seems to be the social policy sweet spot between Stanford's excessively liberal legalization approach that was voted down by Oregonians in 2012, and the excessively regulated approach taken in Washington state.
An Oregonian story describes some of the differences between Oregon and Washington when it comes to legal pot.
Marijuana taxes in Oregon would be lower than Washington's and Colorado's, which he said would allow legal business owners to compete with black market sellers — not to mention give a price break for buyers here.
...Unlike in Washington, Oregon's proposal does not include impaired driving restrictions. That's a good thing, Nadelmann said, because chemical tests for THC are not accurate enough to be effective.
People also would be allowed to grow cannabis at home, while Washington's law does not.
New Approach Oregon also has a report on Nadelmann's glowing opinion about our state's marijuana legalization effort.
So far little opposition has surfaced to the New Approach Oregon initiative. I doubt there will be much, aside from the usual suspects -- such as Clatsop County DA Josh Marquis, who is the go-to guy for reporters who need a quote from the "other side."
Opponents argue that Oregon already decriminalized small amounts of marijuana decades ago.
Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is considered a violation that doesn't result in arrest or jail.
"We are talking about Oregon, not Texas, not Georgia and not the federal government," said Clatstop County District Attorney Josh Marquis.
Marquis said New Approach Oregon representatives have misstated Oregon's record on marijuana arrests given that most are violations. The group cited a Oregon State Police report that showed 12,808 marijuana-related arrests in 2012; the vast majority were for violation-level offenses.
Myth: Oregon police time and resources aren't spent on marijuana offenses
Most of the statistics of “arrests and citations” are simple citations. They are like speeding or not signaling the right way. They take very little resources.
Reality: More than half of the drug-related arrests made in Oregon are for marijuana. (Source: Oregon State Police, page 4-10). In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, 21,856 people were arrested for drug crimes, and 12,808 of them were for marijuana.
Marijuana-related policing has a huge cost. Police time is required to make to search, arrest, book, issue a ticket or lock someone up. In addition to the financial cost, every marijuana arrest and citation takes time that a police officer could have used patrolling a neighborhood, preventing an assault or solving a violent crime. Then there’s also the cost to the individuals, who will now have a marijuana crime on their records and may have trouble finding a job.
Treating adult marijuana use as a crime is a drain on our resources.
Myth: We don't arrest people for marijuana use in Oregon
Reality: Police bust people for marijuana use in Oregon all the time. According to the Oregon State Police, police arrested 12,808 people for marijuana in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. (Source: Oregon State Police, (PDF) page 4-10). That’s like one person every 41 minutes. These arrest numbers have risen by 45 percent in recent years, according to a report by the ACLU on state crime reports.
Oregonians are constantly being arrested for marijuana use.
Plus, NORML reports that possession of less than an ounce of marijuana carries with it an automatic six-month Oregon driver's license suspension. That's a big deal. So it really isn't akin to a traffic ticket, as opponents of marijuana legalization sometimes claim. Nobody loses their driver's license for a minor moving violation.
It's time to legalize marijuana. Weed is way safer than alcohol. Fewer people drinking and more people imbibing pot would make for a much healthier and happier Oregon.