As we've harped on this week, Oregonians could have dueling marijuana proposals vying for their affections come November. It's an embarrassment of riches for a state that recently went almost three decades without a marijuana legalization vote, and many believe the writing's on the wall this time around.
And as lawmakers prepare to hear testimony about the evils of legal pot this afternoon, State Sen. Floyd Prozanski has offered the Mercury a look at the latest of those proposals—legislation that would ensure pot is largely legal by 2015.
A draft of the bill [pdf], which Prozanski plans to introduce during the legislative session beginning February 3, indicates the proposals could be in death-match-style competition.
Rather than being purely legislature-driven, Prozanski's proposal would put a referendum before voters—with some details set in stone and many to be hammered out later. If you're 21 or older, the bill would legalize personal possession of up to eight ounces of marijuana and four plants, with an ounce legal to carry about in public, so long as it's concealed. Those are the same numbers floated in an initiative by New Approach Oregon, a group that's already garnered more than $250,000 from local and national donors. A third initiative by perennial petitioner Paul Stanford would allow a personal stash of 1.5 pounds and 24 plants.
Prozanski's bill also makes attempts to ward off federal meddling by explicitly providing for eight criteria Attorney General Eric Holder has said must be met in order for states with legalized weed to avoid being sued by the US Department of Justice. Those include preventing access to minors, ensuring marijuana isn't trafficked over state lines, and working to prevent "drugged driving" (the New Approach initiative also includes Holder's list).
Then there's the death match component. It's too soon to tell which measures will make the ballot, and activists have said they will back off if Prozanski's bill makes it out of session and isn't problematic. But if all three go before voters in November, and pass, the legislative referral would gut its two competitors if it gets the most votes. That would clear the way for the Legislative Assembly to hammer out the details of legalization during the 2015 session. In the mean time, pot would become officially legal on January 1.
If Prozanski's bill were passed, but earned less votes than another measure, it would be gutted.
This is all unlikely, but one can hope. Hope for a death match.