Legalization one step closer to ballot Two initiatives fall short, while one gains momentum




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New Approach
Oregon, the group behind Ballot Initiative 53, has turned in ­­145,000 signatures
to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office in Salem. The amount of signatures
far surpasses the 87,213 valid signatures necessary to get the cannabis legalization
measure on the November ballot.

“The amount
of enthusiasm has been amazing,” says Peter Zuckerman, Communications Director
for New Approach. “We collected those signatures in just a few months, and
every signature represents an Oregonian who supports a new approach to

Assuming the
requisite number of signatures are valid, New Approach’s initiative would be
the only such measure on the ballot. Efforts for a similar measure and a
constitutional amendment dropped their effort in early July.

Approach’s initiative gained significant momentum over the summer, after having
to re-launch their signature campaign due to a court challenge. That has been
nearly the only bump in the road for the campaign, which has gained a huge
national support base, including the Drug Policy Alliance, which helped pass
legalization measures in Colorado and Washington. In fact, Oregon has become
the organization’s “number one priority,” according to Executive Director Ethan
Nadelmann during a recent visit to the state.

think what you are going to see in Oregon is a hybrid model that draws on the
best of both systems,” Nadelmann says.

who sat down for an extended interview with The
, says Oregon has the potential to become “the new gold standard”
in cannabis reform.

with Nadelmann, local attorney Dave Kopilak, who helped pen the legislation,
said the way cannabis would be taxed would potentially make the system far more
profitable than in Oregon’s neighbor. Thus far, few shops have opened in
Washington, where cannabis can be taxed up to three times in the process.

The campaign
also made news recently upon release of its first online ad, featuring an
80-year-old retired teacher. In the ad clearly aimed at more moderate voters,
Margie Harris begins by saying, “I don’t use marijuana, but as a teacher of 36
years I can tell you other people use it.”

The ad
highlights two aspects of the initiative that New Approach has focused on
heavily: regulation and taxation. Harris points out how easily she has seen
children get ahold of cannabis during her time as a teacher, and that she
believes New Approach’s ballot initiative will help prevent this and provide
tax revenue.

Similar to
Washington, New Approach’s bill would place regulatory powers in the hands of
the state’s liquor control agency, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).
Speaking on KGW’s Straight Talk,
chief petitioner Anthony Johnson points out that this aspect sets the measure
apart from past legalization efforts.

“The details
really matter,” Johnson told host Laurel Porter, referring to the regulation
measures detailed in New Approach’s 36-page initiative.

“We took the
best from Washington and Colorado and crafted something that’s tailored for
Oregonians,” he told Porter.

So far the
moderate approach from the group—which uses blue instead of green on its
campaign materials—has been extremely effective, while the campaign for competing
bills 21 and 22 failed to gain the necessary signatures.

The chief
petitioner on both, longtime local advocate Paul Stanford—who was responsible
for getting an ultimately unsuccessful legalization measure on the ballot in
2012—announced the news on his online television show, Cannabis Common Sense.

Stanford had
similar troubles in 2012, when the Drug Policy Alliance poured heavy funds into
the Colorado and Washington efforts, while bypassing Oregon’s.

liked ours better,” Stanford said on his show, “but the big multi-millionaire
funders didn’t.”

New Approach has opened its campaign headquarters, received an endorsement from
the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and shifted its focus to winning
public opinion ahead of November’s election. 

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