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Could Oregon be First to End Cannabis Prohibition? 'OCTA 2012' is Approved for SignaturesBonnie King Salem-News.com
The petition drive could lead to ending the failed prohibition law.
(SALEM, Ore.) - About 30 volunteers rallied at the new office for the OCTA 2012 campaign on Portland's East side to meet, pick up packets and get outfitted for outreach early Monday. The Oregon Secretary of State's Election Division announced the approval of the petition, Initiative Number 9, for circulation and signature gathering on March 24th and the group lost no time in getting to work.
OCTA 2012 organizers have until July 7, 2012 to gather 90,000 registered voters' signatures to qualify for the November 6, 2012 ballot.
If passed, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 2012 will regulate the legal sale of marijuana to adults through state-licensed stores, allow adults to grow their own, license Oregon farmers to grow marijuana for state-licensed stores and allow unlicensed Oregon farmers to grow cannabis hemp for fuel, fiber and food.
The state campaign committee is working to achieve ballot status in three ways: hiring paid petitioners, organizing volunteer petitioners and soliciting Oregon registered voters signatures online.
Paul Stanford, co-petitioner of OCTA 2012 says "there hasn't been anything like OCTA on the ballot, with the exception of California's measure last year, which was only slightly similar."
Organizers say that OCTA 2012 will raise $140 million a year for Oregon by taxing commercial cannabis sales to adults 21 years of age and older, and save an estimated $61.5 million as law enforcement, corrections and judicial attention can focus on violent crimes and theft.
"We estimate this will amount to $200 million a year more funding for state government. Ninety percent of the proceeds will go into the state general fund, 7% for drug treatment programs, one percent each for drug education in public schools, and two new state commissions to promote hemp biofuel and hemp fiber and food," Alexander said.
OCTA 2012 is "the Legalization Conversation"
A common experience shared throughout the volunteers is one learned through previous actions circulating petitions for OCTA.
"I intentionally contacted many officers of the law to see how they felt about legalization," Alexander said. "Law enforcement supports legalization more than medical marijuana because currently they have to differentiate between law breakers and those exempted from the criminal laws."
"Through the Measure 74 campaign, even media representatives were saying that they wanted us to have the legalization conversation."
"I do not believe that there is a lack of support for marijuana legalization. Instead, I feel that there is a fear of openly admitting support for marijuana legalization among some," Alexander added, "And they need to come out of the cannabis closet."
Beyond the enthusiastic volunteers, there were many interested citizens and media outlets at the kick-off on Monday, and Alexander said that some were in "awe" at the variety of hemp products at the event. On display was pressed hemp board, hemp sealant, hemp cereal, hemp socks, hemp bags, hemp granola bars, hemp milk, hemp shampoo, Dr. Bronner's hemp soap, and much more.
"The volunteers were used to the variety of benefits hemp has to offer, but the media in particular seemed astonished, so I was very glad it was all there."
The Cannabis Tax Act would enable the sale of cannabis to help create and fund an agricultural committee to promote hemp fiber, protein and oil crops and associated industries. OCTA2012 is expected to provide millions of dollars a year to implement this important change.
Giving Farmers Back This Valuable and Environmentally Necessary Commodity
At the campaign kickoff, a series of three benefit concerts were announced, scheduled for the Fourth of July weekend. They feature reggae music legend, Toots & the Maytals. Toots' album, True Love, features duets with Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Ben Harper, and No Doubt. True Love won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album of 2005.
The Independence Day Benefit will be the first show at Portland's Washington Park Rose Garden Amphitheater since Ziggy Marley played there 12 years ago and is expected to draw a large audience.
"I definitely feel good about the start," said Jennifer Alexander. "I think that we have a strong group of volunteers that will get the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act on the 2012 ballot.
"Oregon is one of the small number of states that allows a citizen's initiative, which is a very powerful tool. Oregonians have crafted many laws that would be unlikely to come out of the legislature, and this has enabled Oregon to be at the forefront of many different issues over the years, especially with cannabis."
In answer to a question foremost on many Oregonians' minds, what about the federal prohibition laws that the DEA insists on enforcing? Well, finally, "States Rights" may actually stand for something. The OCTA places the Oregon Attorney General in charge of defending those in compliance with the OCTA against federal charges as well as with promoting adoption of similar legislation at the federal level.
The majority of Oregon's populous has never been obsessed with criminalizing cannabis, and OCTA 2012 may be the turning point not just for the northwest state, but as a leader in the grassroots movement to end prohibition.
For many lifelong activists, this measure's success means an inevitable end to cannabis prohibition on the federal level. And that has already noticeably invigorated the movement.
Publisher Bonnie King has been with Salem-News.com since August '04. Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and NIE/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers.
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