<p>Contact: Tony Newman, 646-335-5384</p>
Today, Oregon voters elected to make their state the third in the nation to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana. Passage of Measure 91 accelerates the nationwide momentum in favor of legalizing marijuana and ending the wider drug war.
“It’s always an uphill battle to win a marijuana legalization initiative in a year like this, when young people are so much less likely to vote, which makes today’s victory all the sweeter,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The pace of reform is accelerating, other states are sure to follow, and even Congress is poised to wake from its slumber.”
Like the historic laws adopted in Colorado and neighboring Washington two short years ago, this new law will legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older and create a statewide system to regulate production and sales. Since voters in Colorado and Washington made their states the first two to legalize marijuana in 2012, thousands of people have been spared of getting arrested for a small amount of marijuana, police have had more time to focus on serious crime, and millions of dollars in new revenue has funded education and other pressing needs.
DPA’s lobbying arm, Drug Policy Action, was the single largest donor to the Oregon campaign and was deeply involved in the measure’s drafting and on-the-ground campaign.
Earlier today, voters in the District of Columbia approved Initiative 71, a ballot initiative that legalizes possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and allows individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. D.C. laws prevented the ballot initiative from addressing the taxation and sale of marijuana, but the D.C. Council is currently considering a bill that would tax, regulate and strictly control the sale of marijuana to adults.
Today’s results will likely boost efforts in California and other states to end marijuana prohibition two years from now. DPA is leading a broad coalition already setting its sights on 2016 in California. It’s likely that several other states, such as Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Arizona, will also join California with legalization measures of their own in two years.
Oregon’s law sets a new gold standard for marijuana regulation – it applies the lessons learned from the first two states to legalize marijuana, Colorado and Washington, while combining many of the best elements of their laws. Revenues (including both tax revenue and an immediate $71 million in annual savings in law enforcement) are expected to be $100 million per year, according to a 2012 study by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron.
The measure’s provision that ends the criminalization of possession for personal use does not take effect until July 1. On that date people will be able to possess and cultivate a small amount at home. The state has 13 months to implement regulations for production and sales, so it will be significantly longer before people can purchase marijuana in a store.