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Two Oregon Marijuana Legalization Measures Struggle To Qualify For Ballot, “Protect Our Homes” Qualifies Easily


oregonrbThis week on my show, I was interviewing Robert Wolfe, the chief petitioner of the constitutional amendment in Oregon to legalize marijuana. He pointed out that the Secretary of State’s office had disqualified so many signatures turned in by both his campaign and the OCTA campaign, the statutory petition to legalize marijuana in Oregon, that they had seen “historic lows” in validity rate.

I crunched the numbers in an earlier post and found both initiatives had ended up with a “turn-in validity” of around 52%. Wolfe claimed that 65% was the mark that was to be expected and that the disenfranchisement of so many signatures was suspect enough that he’s looking to take the issue to court. I asked if this was a phenomenon affecting just marijuana petitions this year, since there was a 2010 petition to vote on medical marijuana dispensaries that made the ballot under similar rules, or if this was unfair scrutiny against marijuana in general. Specifically, I wondered, had any other initiatives been checked for validity and what are their rates?

“Protect Our Homes” is an initiative petition – I-5 to be precise – that has qualified for the November 2012 ballot. It, like the Wolfe initiative, is a constitutional amendment, requiring 116,284 signatures to make the ballot. It tackles a topic of such grand importance that it must be enshrined in our state constitution, for it shall “prohibit real estate transfer taxes, fees, other assessments, except those operative on December 31, 2009.”

On May 24, it turned in 163,278 unverified signatures, of which 76.7% were declared valid, for a total of 122,342 valid signatures. So we’ll be voting on the prohibition of real estate transfer taxes, but probably not on the end of marijuana prohibition.

Just for the record, the Oregon Constitutional Amendment to prohibit the recognition of equal marriage rights for all people needed 100,840 signatures to qualify for the 2004 ballot. It turned in 244,587. It qualified for the ballot and it passed, to our shame. So apparently we can pass the prohibition of gay rights in our Constitution, but not the end of marijuana prohibition.


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. Some years back, a marijuana initiative in Colorado yielded surprising results when it was found there were not enough qualifying signatures.

    Then, several months later – after it was too late, of course – the official in charge of receiving and counting the signatures died. Upon cleaning out her office, HUNDREDS of pages of signatures were found stashed away, that would have made the initiative pass if they had been counted.

    I tried to find references to this but could not. If anyone has that information, please post it.

    The point is, marijuana prohibition is SO profitable to the wealthy power structure, they will do ANYTHING to keep it in place.

    So I would be very surprised if this kind of fraud DIDN’T take place in all marijuana reform efforts. All we can do is keep this in mind and try to thwart their crimes as much as possible.

    As the old saying goes: “KNOW YOUR ENEMY!”

  2. eating_sunshine on

    It would be interesting to know if there was signature tampering by the government. Reefer madness is like religious dogma for some of these people. It seems like they would have motivation to commit such a crime.

  3. The Secretary of State is an ELECTED Position: Kate Brown will be running for office this November – she was on the Democratis primary ballot, and now is the time to make marijuana part of her de-election campaign. Political news right now can have big effects because nothing much is happening – I’m sure the Pubbies would love to get the subject off of Wingard.

  4. I dunno, it doesn’t strike me as implausible to think that prohibitionists might decide to monkey wrench the effort by signing a fake name instead of refusing. Heck, it wouldn’t strike me as implausible to think that they might seek out a petitioner on purpose with that intent.

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