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Josh Marquis’ Tired Arguments Against Oregon Cannabis Legalization


new approach oregon marijuana legalizationNow that Oregon’s legalization is officially Initiative 91 on the November ballot, Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis has taken to the media to offer reasons to vote against ending adult marijuana prohibition.

“There’s going to be a huge trickle down to youth,” Marquis told The Oregonian.  “Would you want your kids…while they are learning, to be affected by a powerful drug?”

Youth have marijuana access now.  For three decades, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) and the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) have found between 80% and 90% of teens find pot “fairly easy” or “very easy” to access.  Are we to believe that we’ll top that rate when marijuana is sold in adults-only stores where IDs are checked and the profit in black market dealing plummets?  CASA also found that 44% of kids know a drug dealer in school and 91% of the time, marijuana’s on the menu, compared to 6% for cigarettes and 1% for alcohol.  It’s not that kids don’t smoke and drink; it’s that there’s no profit in Camels and Budweiser.

Marquis believes increased use and acceptance of marijuana will also inevitably lead to more intoxicated driving, despite both Washington and Colorado showing fewer driving fatalities since they passed legalization.  Marquis even accepts that stoned drivers aren’t more dangerous than drunk drivers, but worries that it’s harder to measure intoxication among marijuana users.

But marijuana and cars exist now.  Is Marquis telling us in his entire career he’s never been able to secure a stoned driving conviction?  Or is he complaining that lack of an unscientific “magic number” DUID standard makes his job harder?

Marquis knows full well that marijuana exists now and argues that medical marijuana and decriminalization make legalization unnecessary.  “Marijuana,” he said, “is already functionally available to almost any adult that wants it in Oregon.”

That may be true, but the consumer enjoying decriminalized pot still has to support a criminal grower, criminal trafficker, and criminal seller to get it.  The patient treating illness with medical cannabis still has to endure the high prices, instability, and burglary risk borne of criminal growing, trafficking, and selling of pot.

Marquis concludes by saying the example of failed Alcohol Prohibition isn’t relevant to the marijuana legalization debate.  “Marijuana has not been accepted in America,” said Marquis. “It has been gradually more tolerated.”  He even expressed that he’d happily eliminate alcohol and tobacco if he could, but he said that’s not practical.

That last sentence tells you all you need to know about Josh Marquis.  He’d happily slap the cuffs on you for drinking wine and smoking a cigar if only it weren’t impractical.  It’s only so impractical because so many people already accept it in our culture.  Just like any practical war, we wage it against a culture small and impotent enough to defeat.

The problem for Josh Marquis is he’s seriously underestimated the size of our culture.  According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use & Health state data, among Oregonians aged 21 and older, 15.5% of us toke annually, 11.1% of us toke monthly, and 3.8% of us toke near daily.  That’s 436,000 occasional, 314,000 moderate, and 108,000 regular adult customers ready to fight for acceptance, not just tolerance.

Source: International Cannabis Business Conference


About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.


  1. Marquis is on the payroll of the cartel. He want’s to protect the black market where no one will ever check ID and there will continue to be more pot sold in our schools than any bar, liquor store or pharmacy. His arguments are beyond weak like his character. Audit his bank accounts!

  2. All you people trying to argue with Marquis are wasting your breath. He cannot hear you; it is not in his nature. He is addicted to prohibition; he probably made a career out of being “tough” on drugs, and he is not capable of entertaining the notion that everything he’s done was wrong and that he’s been one of the bad guys all these years. It won’t happen.

  3. yes please throw ppl in overcrowded jails because they had a joint on them so a rapist can go home early, because God knows we need more room for those pot smokers, I’ve never heard of a man beating his wife and kids because he was stoned, but alcohol daily! Pull your head out of your ancient way of thinking! Oh by the way Mr Marquis ALCOHOL is the so called gateway drug! I’m sick of these ppl that still think in the yr 1950, the state needs the money, we all know you don’t, get over yourself!

  4. Captain Obvious on

    Cannabis use will only grow with the proliferation of the internet and liberty.

  5. Mr. Josh Marqis in first of all yes a person can get marijuana any place they chose its called black market drug dealers that do give a damn how old a person is that they sell to. You say you are worried about young kids using marijuana. Do you know or even understand how many 10 to 18 year olds that sell marijuana or something like heroin. I’m from a small town with a 14 yr son. He knows kid that have smoked pot, stolen parents pills, done heroin. Are you that ignorant that you believe that doesn’t happen. You must be the kind of person who thinks my son or daughter won’t have sex untill there 18 or older. Than surprised when there’s a baby on the way and there only 14. Or how about the medical marijuana growers that can legally grow in there state and a group of enterprising thief break into there hous kid nap a 18yr old girl that was home (her parents plants) take her to the trunk of her car and these 5 pieces of shit take turns shooting her in her stomached her vagina. Just so they could still some plants. This girl was very kind and a good friend of my daughters. She did ask for this. She was always kind to people and well liked. Mr. Marqis you have no idia what you are talking about.
    You preach nothing but bull shit nonsense that has no truth at all. It’s the same shit that’s been preached for years that has no scientific proof but made up lies. Legalize America stop this drug war now stop the senseless killing of innicent children .

  6. They keep repeating their arguments even after they’ve been debunked because they’ve run out of any valid arguments. The old arguments have all been debated over and over on almost every forum for opinion but it’s all they’ve got left – say it over and over and maybe a few people aren’t smart enough to detect the male Bovine fecal matter will believe it. The positive spin off from this situation is that more and more people, especially those who become involved in legalization, are discovering the lack of creditability in the so called authorities.

  7. It’s more that they’re afraid of losing their inflated budgets than it is that they’re concerned “for the children”. The so called “LOW hanging fruit” that marijuana smokers are, will go away and they’ll actually have to work for a living

  8. How I hate these lawyers and political jack fucks. Got their noses so far up their asses. Better school programs better entitlements for our troops. Prohibition has failed. Hopefully the government clowns open their eyes

  9. “The patient treating illness with medical cannabis still has to endure the high prices, instability, and burglary risk borne of criminal growing, trafficking, and selling of pot.”

    And that patient is also an easy mark for state officials with no respect for patient confidentiality: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/politics/2014/07/23/five-owners-oregon-child-care-medical-marijuana-cards/13074175/

    State registries are usually reserved for people the government wants to keep an eye on, like terrorists or sex offenders. I’m not about to pay $200 for the privilege of introducing myself to state officials as a pot smoker.

    I can’t wait for November, when we can vote to erase the distinction between recreation and medicine and enjoy cannabis for either, both, or any purpose in between.

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