I SPOKE with Peter Zuckerman, communications director for New Approach Oregon (newapproachoregon.com), whose marijuana ballot initiative qualified last month for the November ballot. I asked him to break down exactly how the measure, if passed, would work.
"Treating marijuana as a crime has failed," he says. "Instead of letting the current policies continue to ruin people's lives, now is our time to work together to win sensible drug policies for Oregon. If you want to be part of history and improve Oregon, please join our campaign right now. We need volunteers, donors, and people who will share their stories."
MERCURY: Will the measure have any effect on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program [OMMP]? Will medical patients be forced to give up growing or designating a grower?
PETER ZUCKERMAN: Nothing changes for OMMP members. The program stays exactly the same as it is now. But what does change is that the measure will make it easier for researchers to study the medical benefits of marijuana.
How much will marijuana cost per ounce? What will the tax be?
The cost per ounce to the consumer will depend on the market. The taxes will be paid by the marijuana producers as follows: $35 per ounce on cannabis flowers—which is the same as $1.25 per gram; $10 per ounce of leaf; and $5 per immature plants, or clones.
Who will be able to purchase? Will they need to be an Oregon resident?
Only people 21 and over may purchase. They do not need be a resident of Oregon. However, they are not allowed to cross state lines with their purchases, they will need to show their ID, and they will be buying from licensed, audited, and inspected facilities regulated by the state.
Is there a limit on how much an individual may purchase or possess?
Yes. An individual may purchase and have on their person up to one ounce.
What about edibles?
All edibles will be subject to regulations on packaging, labeling, and testing. The amount of edibles an individual may purchase and possess will be based upon weight.
The New Approach measure already has strict limits, but the regulating agency has the authority to establish additional rules once the measure has passed.
What about concentrates (or "dabs," BHO, shatter, etc.)?
You can't have more than one ounce, and, with some exceptions, they can only be made by state licensed processors.
Will the cannabis be subject to testing for THC content and screening for any pesticides or chemicals, like the OMMP cannabis sold in dispensaries right now?
Yes. All products will be subject to the same testing requirements that medicinal marijuana dispensaries are required to have. The state is also likely to establish additional testing and labeling.
Will users be able to consume in public?
No. You can only consume on private property and out of public view.
What about people who have been incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana offenses? Will they have an option for early release?
That will be left up to the courts and to lawmakers, but I think there are better uses of resources than locking people up and turning them into hardened criminals just because of a small amount of marijuana.
How would this differ from the programs underway in Washington State and Colorado?
There will be similarities and differences. One key difference is taxing. In Oregon, tax revenue will go to state and local police, schools, drug treatment, drug prevention, and mental health.
Anything to add?
In the last decade, Oregon police have arrested or cited more than 99,000 people. In addition to the financial cost, it's a distraction for police who could be focusing on more important things, like stopping violent crimes. Help us win sensible drug policies by going to our website, newapproachoregon.com.