Monday, October 20, 2014

The State of Marijuana in Oregon

Oregon was the first state to vote in medical marijuana, in 1998.  Enough people now have medical marijuana cards that the in-state black market mostly collapsed several years ago.  One used to be able to find pot by asking any scruffy-looking kid on the street.  Not so anymore; the kids are unable to make money at it anymore without taking it out of state, and most kids are not able to do that.  

As the street market collapsed, clinics became convenience pot shops for medical users, charging black-market prices, because selling it was illegal.  For several years, we had clinics and large grows being busted for selling instate, out of state, or trading pot for trimming buds.  They were often busted because people were caught taking large quantities on the road, heading for other states or home.  In some cases, narcs bought pot at the clinics by the pound.  Thus, people realized that selling was more dangerous than giving it away, and the market was further depressed.

After recreational marijuana was passed in Colorado and Washington but voted down in Oregon, the legislature allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to be licensed.  It seems that stoners with connections to growers in Oregon were too comfortable with being able to get their weed cheap or free to go for taxes and even light regulations.  

Meanwhile, those without connections, who are new to the state or the part of the state that they were in, are shut out, as growers had plenty of people already to give it away to, and many are taking their excess out of state or to the convenience clinics and dispensaries.  Since the dispensaries are limited to medical card holders, they are still charging black market rates, just to keep the doors open, probably.

Now we have Measure 91 on the ballot, a bill apparently written by tobacco companies for their profit and for people who don’t like marijuana, but would like to take taxes from it for their schools and regulate it so tightly that the taxes can be high.  It allows a household to grow only four plants and possess only a half-pound, a pound of marijuana edibles, and up to 72 ounces of “liquid marijuana,” which can only be glycerin extract, going by the definitions in section 5, and the prohibition of other extracts in section 57. 

It also mandates that all Oregon police enforce this law, and gives local governments a cut of the taxes only for enforcing it.  It mandates as the primary punishment that they confiscate any marijuana “items” when they find violations of the licensing, including violations of these “homegrown” exceptions to licensing in Section 6, which put one under the licensing requirements if one goes over those limits.  Those “items” include “facilities for the storing, serving, or using of marijuana items.”  In case of homegrown, that means your home.

If this passes, poor people who live several adults to a household will lose their homes because they will get caught keeping enough pot to cover their own household’s use.  Some who support the measure say that we can lose our homes now and the cops won’t know and can’t get a warrant to search without reasonable suspicion.  But legalization should mean that we don’t have to hide our weed or worry about being busted as long as we are not selling it.  

Measure 91 would make people criminals and perhaps homeless just for keeping enough for our own use.  It will pay our police to bust us for over-possession, taking them away from stopping real crimes.

What is most interesting about this campaign is that the paid ads and editorials against Measure 91 are few and unpersuasive to anyone who isn’t totally against pot already.  It seems as though it is token opposition, designed to get people to vote for it, not against it.

#Measure91 can #TakeYourHome.  @AnRycke

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener              541-955-9040