In this week's paper, we've got a brief look at the forces coalescing to support Measure 91, which would make recreational pot legal in Oregon if approved in November. The opponents are bemoaning their fate—there's no way they'll have the monetary draw we've seen with weed proponents—and say they're counting on people taking the advice of respected voices in the community.
The main drivers behind the "No on 91" campaign are currently the state's sheriffs and the lobbying association representing Oregon district attorneys.A spokesman for Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton told the Mercury he opposes the legalization measure, but we didn't hear back from Multnomah County DA Rod Underhill on the matter until this morning.
He's squarely against:
- Multnomah County District Attorney's Office
Underhill notes that last year's House Bill 3194 reduced penalties for marijuana penalties in Oregon, making it so growers can't be sent to prison unless they sell to kids or near schools.
"I am committed to working to ensure that Multnomah County remains healthy and safe," he says. "If the citizens of the State of Oregon choose to legalize marijuana then I will work to ensure that choice does not adversely impact our community. "
The "No on 91" camp has also said it will appeal to the business community and drug treatment counselors for support (New Approach Oregon, the group behind Measure 91, came out this week with support from a former state addiction and mental health director). So far, local business groups have been quiet.
But local drug abuse (and suicide) hotline Lines for Life decided back in spring it was opposed to legalization, according to Tom Parker, the organization's outreach director. The nonprofit, helmed by former US Attorney for Oregon Dwight Holton, is mostly concerned children will more easily get ahold of pot if it's legal, Parker says.
"You get a 12-year-old mixed up in it, they’re likelihood of having a lifetime of substance abuse really escalates," Parker says. "Right now it is illegal, so it isn’t as available as say alcohol or tobacco are." (The idea of marijuana as a "gateway drug" has been discredited for more than a decade, though there's evidence it does disproportionately harm developing brains.)
Read full statements from Lines for Life and Underhill after the jump.
Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill:
In 2013, I participated in the drafting of, and supported the passage of, legislation which dramatically reduced felony marijuana penalties. Today, as part of HB 3194, marijuana growers and sellers cannot receive a prison sentence unless they are selling marijuana to children or are within 1,000 feet of a school.
I do not support Ballot Measure 91. Ballot Measure 91 leaves unanswered a number of critical questions. Although it is foreseeable that a majority of Oregon voters will sanction the legalization of possession of marijuana in the future, in my view the Measure does not do enough to address public safety, public health and regulatory issues. I believe that Oregon’s public safety experts, health care professionals, legislators and citizens should take more time to learn from the experiences of the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado before moving forward.
I am committed to working to ensure that Multnomah County remains healthy and safe. If the citizens of the State of Oregon choose to legalize marijuana then I will work to ensure that choice does not adversely impact our community.
Lines for Life:
“Lines for Life has grave concerns about the use of marijuana by youth. Marijuana has been linked to school failure and drops in IQ by heavy users who begin in their teenage years, and has negative impacts on brain development for youth who are heavy users. The legalization of marijuana will increase the availability of marijuana for kids, as evidence suggests we are already seeing in Colorado. Therefore, Lines for Life strongly opposes the legalization of marijuana.”