Legalize it in Oregon

The good news: Oregon may have a marijuana legalization measure on the ballot soon. The bad news: It would give the state a monopoly on cannabis sales:

[Legalization advocates] plan to put the issue on the 2010 ballot with an initiative called the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act.

If they can gather 87,000 signatures to put it on the ballot, and voters then approved the initiative, the act would set up the Oregon Cannabis Control Commission. The new agency would sell pot to buyers 21 and over, with 90 percent of the profit going to the state’s general fund and 10 percent for drug treatment.

Activists last put a legalization measure on the ballot in 1986. It got just 26 percent support. But after decades fighting to legalize pot in Oregon, they believe the public has come around.

Have we learned nothing from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission? If we do this, it will take us forever to get new, artisinal brands of pot on the market, “coffeehouse” owners will lose money for months while they wait for licenses, and all the coolest cafes will open in California.

Here’s my idea for a compromise measure: Attach a rider eliminating the OLCC, transferring all its employees to the OCCC. Pot smokers are more relaxed than drinkers anyway, making them much better equipped to deal with lazy agency bureaucrats.

For a glimpse of what happens when the government is the sole distributor of a good, be sure to check out Doug’s write-up of the current state of liquor sales in Washington state. It’s hard to find stories that make the OLCC look good in comparison, but this is one of them.


5 thoughts on “Legalize it in Oregon”

  1. I agree with you that a state-run monopoly of cannabis sales would be bad…but I sometimes I think people should take the small victories when they can get them…
    If enough states buck the Feds and start legalizing cannabis, it may just bleed the bureaucracy enough to seriously address the issue.
    Would Oregonians be able to grow for personal consumption?

  2. At the outset, I’m pretty sure this is how any sort of legalization measure will have to go down, like it or not. The state’s illusion of control over drug consumption isn’t something their going to let go of completely right off the bat. Baby steps, man, baby steps.

  3. At this point I’ll take what I can get. Also pot is unlike alcohol in the sense that pretty much anyone could grow it so the everyday citizen could still buy the artisan Humboldt varieties from their friendly neighborhood dealer and not get busted for having them.

  4. To be clear, my opposition to the OCCC was tongue in cheek, mainly just an excuse to mock the OLCC. Any step in favor of legalization is a good one. But if we can avoid an OCCC, we should. Prohibition ended 75 years ago and we still can get rid of the liquor control agency.

  5. Prohibition does nothing but enrich gangsters and the prison-industrial complex.

    If it’s smoked away from non-smokers and we can find a way to ID those driving under the influence, who cares what other people do? If it is legalized, I’d encourage increased penalties for selling to minors, though.

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