Portland, OR, United States (4E) – Oregon’s bid to become the third state to legalize recreational marijuana use got a boost as a signature campaign to make voters decide on the issue in the November election gathered more than 100,000 signatures.
The petition backer New Approach Oregon (NAO) said Monday the number of collected signatures exceeded the 87,213 minimum required to qualify the measure for the ballot that would tax, legalize and regulate marijuana use in Oregon. Only the signatures of registered voters are qualified and these have to be submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State by July 3.
NAO is continuing the signature drive to ensure that the measure qualifies even if there are invalid signatures.
The measure, Control, Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act, strictly regulates marijuana sales and possession in the state. It legalizes the use of marijuana by adults 21 and older only and taxes marijuana and its products to generate money for education, public safety, drug treatment and drug prevention. If passed, the new law would allow a person to possess up to eight ounces and to grow up to four plants. Marijuana would be taxed at $35 an ounce and $5 per plant.
“We need to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on treating marijuana as a crime,” said Dan Mahr, NAO’s campaign manager. “Our country has spent 40 years and more than $1 trillion dollars on the War on Drugs. Prohibition is ineffective and costs the state tax revenue.”
As the Oregon petition drew more signatures, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon on Tuesday threw its support to the initiative while presidential contender and former state secretary Hillary Clinton took a neutral stance on legalized recreational marijuana.
ACLU of Oregon executive director David Fidanque said, “We need to stop wasting taxpayer dollars arresting and searching people in Oregon just because they use marijuana. Prohibition hasn’t worked and it never will. It’s time to be honest about that and take a path that makes sense.”
A recent report issued by the National ACLU, based on state crime reports provided to the FBI, shows that Oregon law enforcement agencies increased the rate of citations and arrests for possession of marijuana by 45 percent between 2001 and 2010. Oregon’s increase was the fifth highest in the country during that period.
A survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb. 14-23 among 1,821 adults, finds that support for the legalization of marijuana use continues to increase. By wide margins, the public views marijuana as less harmful than alcohol, both to personal health and to society more generally. But the public remains concerned over the problem of drug abuse – both nationally and locally.
Clinton told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Tuesday that she supports medical marijuana though there should be more research on how the drug interacts with other drugs. Her stance on recreational marijuana depends on its impact in Colorado and Washington state. In Colorado, recreational marijuana use became legal in the state in January and statistics on its impact to health are still developing.
“We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is,” Clinton was quoted as saying.
Ever since medical marijuana became legal in Colorado in 2009, Ben Court, an addictions expert at the University of Colorado Hospital Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation, saw an increase in patients coming for treatment for marijuana addiction. Colorado’s teen rehab center Adolescent STEP had to double its staff because of a growing waiting list of patients.
BioCorRx, Inc. (OTC:BICX), an addiction treatment company based in Nevada, expects a rise in patients seeking treatment for marijuana-related symptoms or opioid addiction.
The company licenses its alcohol and drug addiction treatment called Start Fresh Program (SFP) to rehab clinics in the U.S. SFP is a comprehensive treatment program that significantly reduces or eliminates the physical cravings for alcohol and opiates through the use of a time-release implant containing the drug, naltrexone. It includes a personalized life coaching session to address the psychological reasons for patient’s drinking and drug abuse.