On a roll
Working against the War on Drugs — all across America
Published: June 27, 2012
A different petition drive to amend the Oregon Constitution met a similar fate at the secretary of state office. That drive, the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative, needs more signatures than OCTA because it amends the state constitution, and things aren't looking good for that effort.
The public mood about marijuana in Oregon was tapped recently in that state's Democratic primary for attorney general. Retired judge Ellen Rosenblum easily won the race against former U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton. During the campaign, Rosenblum said that she would make "marijuana enforcement a low priority, and protect the rights of medical marijuana patients." Last year, as an Oregon U.S. Attorney, Holton sent out letters to owners, operators and landlords of dispensaries threatening them with prosecution. A little less than one-third of Rosenblum's contributions came from marijuana legalization supporters. Republicans have not fielded a candidate for attorney general, so the Democratic candidate is the presumptive winner. Apparently openly supporting marijuana is no longer political suicide.
"Politicians are coming out of the cannabis closet," says Morgan Fox, communications manager for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. "Not only will they not be hurt by supporting marijuana reform, but it might be advantageous to their re-election efforts."
The OTCA is a bit different than proposed laws in other states because it puts hemp production front and center in the debate. Hemp is the low-THC strain of cannabis used in making rope and numerous other products, from fuel to car parts. It gets its play in the other states, but Oregon has really focused on the industrial potential of the plant's sturdy fibers.
While Colorado and Washington have been getting the headlines, Oregon just might be the dark horse candidate to legalize it before any other state — if you give them enough rope.
Larry Gabriel is a musician, writer and former Metro Times editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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