Peter Zuckerman: Oregon’s push to legalization

Peter Zuckerman of New Approach Oregon was nice enough to give us a guest post on what’s going on with legalization in Oregon. Here’s the scoop:

Press Secretary, New Approach Oregon

As Washington’s law to regulate marijuana takes effect, here’s an update on what is happening in Oregon.

Last week, the New Approach Oregon campaign submitted more than enough signatures to qualify a measure for the ballot. That means Oregonians in November will decide whether to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana.

(Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner, prepares to hand in signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State in late June.)
(Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner, prepares to hand in signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State in late June.)

Should the measure pass into law, Oregon will be the third state, after Washington and Colorado, to fully legalize marijuana use.

Since turning in signatures, the campaign has officially opened its headquarters in northeast Portland, hired a staff, and is releasing its first campaign video

Victory will be tough but is within reach: The latest public, independent poll shows that 53 percent of Oregonians support marijuana regulation; opposition is at 38 percent.

Right now, Oregonians are frequently arrested for marijuana. According to state police figures, 12,808 people were arrested or cited for marijuana in 2012, the most recent year that data is available.

That’s 35 people a day, or roughly one person every 40 minutes.

According to the National ACLU, Oregon has seen a 45 percent increase rate in citations for marijuana use and possession between 2001 and 2010, the fifth highest in the country for that period. And people of color are more than twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana use, even though they use marijuana as often as the rest of the population.

Under the New Approach Initiative, marijuana would be taxed, legalized and regulated. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would regulate marijuana in a way that is substantially similar to how beer and wine are regulated.

The measure retains current medical marijuana laws so that those who need it have access to it, retains drug-free workplace rules and prohibits all public use and display.

To find out more, visit www.NewApproachOregon.com.