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Portland NORML Urges Gov. Kitzhaber to Respect the Will of the People Who Voted for Marijuana Legalization

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Measure 91 Legalization Passed With 56% of the Vote, Greatest Support in the Four Legal States, 115,000 More Votes than Gov. Kitzhaber

Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (Image: Wikipedia)

Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (Image: Wikipedia)

PORTLAND – Gov. John Kitzhaber has written a letter to Oregon Liquor Control Commissioner Rob Patridge expressing his wishes for the implementation of marijuana legalization in Oregon, as approved by the voters in the 2014 general election.  Portland NORML expresses serious concerns about the governor’s understanding of marijuana reform and apparent refusal to consider allowing the expressed will of the people to be implemented as written.

“Gov. Kitzhaber should recognize that regardless of his feelings on legalization, far more voters in Oregon supported Measure 91 than his re-election,” stated Russ Belville, executive director of Portland NORML.  “Measure 91 was written by the smartest activists in marijuana law reform to learn from lessons in Washington and Colorado, and fifty-six percent of the voters in Oregon responded by supporting Measure 91 as written by larger margins than voters supported legalization in Colorado, Washington, or Alaska.”

Gov. Kitzhaber identified four priorities he’d like to see addressed:

  • “Oregon must also prohibit marijuana products and marketing that appeal to minors…” While Portland NORML agrees that marketing to minors must be prevented, eliminating the option for adults to purchase and consume edibles must be protected, as the people voted to allow the manufacture of such items and possession of them.
  • “…provide state and local law enforcement the tools necessary to keep our roads safe and prevent driving while under the influence of intoxicants.” While Portland NORML agrees that preventing impaired driving is paramount, Portland NORML vigorously opposes imposition of blood test or urine test DUID standards that serve to prove only that a driver is a marijuana consumer, not that he or she is impaired behind the wheel.
  • “…drive producers, processors, and consumers alike into the regulated market…. regardless of whether it is produced or consumed for recreational or medicinal purposes.” Portland NORML adamantly opposes any premature changes to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and reminds Gov. Kitzhaber that 56 percent of Oregon voters affirmed Measure 91, which specifically promised three times within the text that it would not alter the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.
  • “We also should take a close look at the provisions for home grown marijuana in Measure 91…” Portland NORML notes that the possession of eight ounces of marijuana per household was thoughtfully crafted by Measure 91’s authors to correspond to the four plants per household adults may cultivate.  Lowering those limits invites diversion to the black market by adults who must rid themselves of their harvest to avoid becoming felons.  Portland NORML also notes that Oregon’s four plants per household is less than the six plants per adult allowed in Colorado and the twelve plants per household allowed in Washington DC, and that Colorado allows possession of “the results of the harvests” at home, a value with no real upper bound.

“Gov. Kitzhaber’s feeling that he knows better than the voters of Oregon is not without historical precedent,” notes Belville.  “In 1997, after two dozen years of marijuana decriminalization, the legislature passed and Gov. Kitzhaber signed legislation re-criminalizing simple marijuana possession.  In 1998, the voters of Oregon by a two-to-one margin, 66.5 percent, rebuked their elected officials by overturning that law in a referendum, once again showing more support for marijuana reform than the governor, who won that election with 64 percent of the vote.  Last year, more Oregonians voted against Gov. Kitzhaber than voted for him, while our state’s well-crafted marijuana legalization measure was winning by the largest margin in marijuana legalization history.  Gov. Kitzhaber would be well-advised to respect the will of the voters and implement the text of Measure 91 as they voted for it.”

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Russ Belville

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.

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