Just say no to pot measure

By The Bend Bulletin editorial October 08, 2012 01:22 pm

Editorial from The (Bend) Bulletin:

If you like the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, perhaps you’d be equally taken with a new Oregon Cannabis Commission that would deal with marijuana in the same way OLCC deals with booze. For us, that thought — of an OLCC-like OCC — is perhaps the least significant of several reasons voters should reject Ballot Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act.

Oregonians have generally viewed marijuana far more favorably than does the federal government. We approved the use of weed for medicinal purposes in 1998. Before that, we decriminalized possession of small amounts, though the fine for that violation was doubled. And, the state rejected an effort to recriminalize possession of even small amounts by a 2-1 margin in 1998.

Meanwhile, however, we rejected legalizing personal use and cultivation of the drug by a 74 percent majority in 1986. There are good reasons for doing so again:

• Oregon’s already casual attitude toward cannabis has made the state a haven for drug traffickers who know that allowances for possession and growth are generous and oversight is lax. Law enforcement officials say that medical marijuana selling for between $1,000 and $3,000 a pound in Oregon will bring $5,200 per pound on the other side of the country. Legalizing weed likely will make the problem worse.

• While marijuana might not lead all users to harder drugs, it’s true that some of those who do use hard drugs began with marijuana.

• It makes no sense to legalize a drug that — for some users, at least — impairs driving in the way that alcohol impairs driving.

• Nor does it make sense to legalize a drug that is illegal on the federal level. Attorney General Eric Holder has said nothing about the Oregon campaign, but he did weigh in on a similar effort in California a couple of years ago when he promised he would “vigorously enforce” federal law regarding the drug.

• And yes, we know that pot taxes would go to schools and that schoolchildren would be educated about the drug. Yet surely, even in financially strapped Oregon there are better ways to pay for schools. Our teachers also have enough to do without adding marijuana to the curriculum.

We all know the problems alcohol causes to the state, to abusers and to their families. Making another drug with the potential for abuse legal simply makes no sense.