Oregon’s ballot is breaking new political ground — maybe too fast for its citizens and the country at large
This is the age of marijuana reform, but we’re still, realistically, a long way from legalization. Three states — Oregon, Washington and Colorado — are cruising ahead to an election with marijuana legalization initiatives on the ballots, and, depending on what happens, 2013 could be a lot more mellow.
Two of the measures have majority support — 57 percent of voters in Washington, and 51 percent of those in Colorado are pro, according to polls in early September — and they’re raising cash by the bucket-load (George Soros, Progressive Insurance chairman Peter Lewis). But Oregon’s pro-legalization movement seems to be at a standstill; roughly 40 percent are for legalization, 40 percent are against it, and a whopping 20 percent of voters are still undecided. What’s worse, the AP reported last week that the campaign only has $1,800 left in the bank. Legalization might happen, but it’s looking like Oregon might not be the game-changer.
The lack of steam may be, as the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act’s author, top contributor, and chief petitioner Paul Stanford says, because the other two states had measures drafted by large organizations who already had deep pockets attached. Or it might, as Allen St. Pierre, the director of NORML has claimed, be related to Stanford’s business reputation — bankruptcies in the 1990s, accusations from investors of non-payment, recent tax settlements — which makes big donors see him as untrustworthy. Or it could be that, despite its reputation as a pot-friendly state, Oregon voters are simply not ready.
And it might all just be a moot point. Even if the measures do go through, federal regulations aren’t going to change, and the DEA isn’t likely to ignore its powers over state law; since Obama took office, there have been over 200 raids of legitimate marijuana businesses.