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Oregon marijuana legalization measure makes November ballot

First came Colorado and Washington. Will Oregon be next state to OK recreational pot use?
Oregonians will vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use

Oregonians will be able to vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The initiative submitted by the marijuana reform group New Approach Oregon received at least 88,500 valid signatures to qualify for placement on the ballot, election workers announced Wednesday. 

“Treating marijuana use as a crime has failed,” Peter Zuckerman, spokesman for New Approach Oregon, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. “We can’t afford to wait -- more lives are being ruined, more money is being blown into the black market and police are more distracted from issues like violent crime. Oregonians are open to a new approach to marijuana and we are going to fight for every vote.”

The measure needs a simple majority to pass.

If Oregon legalizes recreational marijuana, it would become the third state to do so, following Washington and Colorado, which both passed legalization initiatives in 2012. Alaska will also vote on a similar measure in November.

Twenty-four states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws permitting medicinal marijuana use.

The Oregon ballot measure, Initiative Petition 53, seeks to regulate the personal possession, commercial cultivation and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Under the plan, taxes on the sale of cannabis are estimated to raise about $88 million in the first two years following the law’s implementation.

The proposal would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana and to cultivate up to four plants. It would also give the Oregon Liquor Control Commission authority to oversee and regulate recreational sales, which would start in January 2016.

Recreational marijuana would be taxed at $1.50 a gram or $35 an ounce, according to the initiative. That revenue from the taxes would go to schools, law enforcement, drug treatment programs and mental health programs.

In a June poll in Oregon, 51% of those surveyed said they supported allowing adults to use, possess and grow marijuana for their personal use while allowing the state to regulate and tax it.

A study released Tuesday by ECO Northwest, an economic analysis and advisory group, estimated that marijuana regulation in Oregon would generate $38.5 million in tax revenue in the first year of sales. 

Follow @msrikris for the latest national news.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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