Election 2014  
comments_image Comments

5 Reasons Why Oregon's Weed Legalization Initiative Is the Most Radical on the November Ballots

Oregon's ballot is breaking new political ground -- maybe too fast for its citizens and the country's pace of drug reform.

Continued from previous page

 
 
Share

However, as Stanford points out, this kind of board is not uncommon. In drafting this section of the act, he was hesitant give control of the process to the liquor control board, after his research showed that 15 percent of Oregonians had a negative opinion of the board, and were therefore less likely to support a measure in which they were given so much additional authority. He decided to look elsewhere for a model.

When you look at other government commissions, Stanford explains, this is the norm. “The board of pharmacy requires that pharmacists make up the commissioners; the medical board requires that physicians be the ones to govern the medical board; and in Oregon, we have a number of agricultural commissions, and the law is that 70 percent of the makeup of those commissions have to be people in the industry.”

Instead of career politicians or misinformed members of the public, it could be people who know and understand the different chemical compounds found in marijuana, the effects they have, and the danger they could present.

Of course, there is also the worry that a term of one year could mean constant campaigning, pandering to the small group who could vote for representatives. What would stop the commission from doing the best thing for licensees, instead of what is best for the people of Oregon?

“Well the legislature would be able to address that, because in Oregon, the legislature can revise initiatives immediately.” So if Oregonians thought there was anything fishy going on, or weren’t happy with the guidelines the board was setting up, they would be able to take it up with the legislatures, who would have the ability to revise the measure? “Certainly.”

2. It’s written to get the attorney general to bring it to the Supreme Court.

Some have criticized the flowery opening language of the bill as laughable; one local paper went as far as to describe it as “a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch. True, the preamble goes though a somewhat humorous condensed history of the cannabis plant: George Washington’s cannabis crops; Thomas Jefferson’s invention that processed cannabis; the writings of Gouverneur Morris (Founding Father, contributor to the Constitution), who concluded that cannabis was “to be preferred” over tobacco; its cultivation for “10,000 years without a single lethal overdose”; God’s gift to mankind in Genesis of "every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth,” and how denying this to the public violates their Natural Rights according to the Oregon Constitution.

But Stanford says he didn’t add this level of detail simply for literary effect. Instead, the history—along with the “it’s not a gateway drug” and “it’s actually not as bad as alcohol” arguments standard in all legalization measure preambles—could help when the law eventually makes its way to the land’s highest courts.

“We set up a number of findings by the people in a preamble to our initiative that were specifically designed to address the federal supremacy issue,” says Stanford. “I think out of [the three] initiatives, ours is the only one that deals with the federal issue head on. We designed it to be upheld in federal court, and always looked at a federal court challenge as being inevitable. We did that by creating seven findings by the people of the state, and those are based on historical, scientific, legal and constitutional issues.”

This, Stanford hopes, will be more than just empty arguments. In a program funded by the application and license fees collected by the OCC, the attorney general will have a new facet to her job—Ellen Rosenblum would be charged with defending the act as far up as the Supreme Court, and even lobbying Congress for a new national approach to pot. “The Attorney General shall vigorously defend this Act and any person prosecuted for acts licensed under this chapter, propose a federal…act to remove impediments to this chapter, deliver the proposed federal…act to each member of Congress… and urge adoption of the proposed federal…act through all legal and appropriate means.” Let’s just hope the AG’s game, cause this will be no easy argument.

 
See more stories tagged with: