Weed wins big Next door in Oregon also wins in Alaska, DC and The Pacific island of Guam
So what does this all mean for the Emerald Triangle?
News excepts from the Guardian;
In Oregon, with 75% of the ballot counted, support for Measure 91 had a decisive lead with 54% of votes. In Alaska, the pro-legalization campaign led with 52% of the vote in the 97% of precincts reporting.
There were victories for more liberal marijuana laws elsewhere too. In Washington DC, voters approved possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use – although that move could be blocked by the US Congress, which holds significant legislative authority over the city.
The Pacific island of Guam became the first US territory to legalize medical marijuana, but a vote on the same issue in Florida fell just short of the 60% threshold that was required for it to pass.
The results in Oregon and Alaska, which followed the legalization of recreational marijuana in neighboring Washington state and Colorado two years ago, were cheered by national campaigns as evidence of a gathering movement to challenge federal laws banning the drug.
Earl Blumenauer, a member of the US Congress whose district includes part of Portland, told a victory party that the momentum from Oregon would spread across the country.
“You are going to change national policy,” he said. “The marijuana legalization train has left the station.”
Measure 91 had significant political backing from other politicians, including from Oregon senator, Jeff Merkley, the first US senator to come out publicly in support of legalization.
Jill Harris, the alliance’s director said that for the measure to pass in a non-presidential election year, when the turnout of younger voters is lower, indicates that initiatives to legalize marijuana in other states in 2016 should do well.
“Looking ahead where there’s going to be legalization measures on the ballot in places like California, Massachusetts, and potentially Nevada, Arizona and Maine, I think we’ll be looking at a presidential year electorate and those initiatives will do very well. This result is just building momentum toward that,” she said.
Legalization in Oregon, which will come into force in July 2015, goes further than in neighboring Washington state by permitting users over the age of 21 to grow their own cannabis and keep up to four mature marijuana plants. Oregonians will also be able to possess much larger quantities than in Washington state or Colorado, which permit up to one ounce of cannabis. Oregon will allow eight ounces with sales oversight in the hands of the Oregon liquor control commission.
Alaska will permit residents to grow up to six cannabis plants and allow them to carry up to one ounce.
Supporters of legalization promoted it as a means of combating drug cartels and relieve the police of time-wasting arrests for possession of small amounts of the drug. They also say it will generate much-needed tax revenues to be divided between schools, law enforcement and mental health and addiction treatment programmers.
Several town councils have passed additional tax levies on marijuana to discourage its sale in their municipalities. However, the ballot measure would appear to override the ability of local authorities to tax cannabis by giving that power solely to the state.
Among the most vocal opponents of Measure 91 was the Clatsop county district attorney, Josh Marquis, who has described the amount of marijuana individuals will be allowed to possess as “staggering”.
Mark Kleiman, a UCLA professor and chief consultant to Washington state on its marijuana laws, said that Measure 91 has set the tax rate too low at $35 an ounce……
An interesting letter in today’s Trinity Journal written by a Trinity County sheriff’s deputy named Mark Potts here are some excerpts:
“The Mexican drug cartels were created out of America’s illogical “war on drugs.” Whenever you create a black market organizations will emerge to manage it.”
“In 1919 alcohol prohibition was supposed to lower crime, reduce social problems and lower taxes needed to support prisons and poorhouses. Instead alcohol became more dangerous to consume, organized crime blossomed, courts and prisons became overloaded and endemic corruption of police and public officials occurred.”
“The prohibitionists have to know it’s like trying to bail out the sinking Titanic with a shot glass, so what gives? Money and strange bedfellows! Police agencies get tons of money fighting it and the growers get tons of money selling it. It’s a win-win for both sides.”
“If it were legalized tons of money would be lost. So goes the war on drugs.”
(To be fair the letter is captioned with this disclaimer:”Opinions expressed are Potts’, not those of the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office.”)
We don’t think the black market will go away but it does mean there’s going to be a big shake out and funding for law enforcement will either change drastically or go away. Whatever awaits the Emerald Triangle it a sure bet big changes are coming that will affect all residents for better or worse. If full legalization comes to California in 2016, many Chiefs and Sheriffs will be wondering where their going to find money to fill the hole created by the lack of “asset forfeiture”. Times are changing, and it will be interesting to see what can be done with law enforcement that doesn’t spend precious time cutting down plants. Maybe, just maybe, there will be regular “teams” of officers focusing on burglars, gang members, and other types of criminals who leave waves of victims in their wake. That would be a nice change of pace, wouldn’t it?