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Will Oregon Be The First State To Legalize Marijuana Via The Legislature?


oregon house bill 3371 marijuana legalization judiciary committeeHistory was made at the Oregon Legislature today, when House Bill 3371 became the first Oregon cannabis legalization measure to have a hearing and pass out of a committee.  The bill passed out of the committee 6-3, with one Republican, Wayne Krieger, joining the committee’s 5 Democrats.  The bill now moves onto the House Committee on Revenue.

I am honored to have testified on HB 3371, a proposal to regulate and tax marijuana similar to how the state handles alcohol today.  I was joined by the bill’s primary drafter, David Kopilak, an attorney for Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt; and John Horvick, a pollster for DHM Research.  Also, written testimony in support was submitted by David Lesh, a former Multnomah County Prosecutor; Shelley Fox-Loken, a former corrections officer and current member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition; and US Congressman Earl Blumenauer.

Only one representative for the Oregon Sheriff’s Association spoke in opposition.

From the Statesman Journal:

“Marijuana legalization is coming to Oregon sooner rather than later,” said Anthony Johnson of Portland, an activist who leads New Approach Oregon. “It makes sense to regulate marijuana like alcohol and for the Legislature to take the lead on the issue and make sure sensible regulations are in place.”

But Sheriff Pat Garrett of Washington County spoke for the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, which opposes House Bill 3371.

“This act will not make the problems of marijuana abuse go away,” he told the House Judiciary Committee.

Most voters, politicians and policy makers understand that cannabis legalization is coming to Oregon, sooner than later.  The Oregon Legislature can take the opportunity to lead on the issue and craft a measure that contains their preferred regulations and tax structure.  If the Oregon Legislature doesn’t take the lead, then activists will put a different legalization measure on the ballot with fewer regulations and less tax revenue.  Hopefully, Oregon legislators will pass House Bill 3371 or refer the measure to the voters in November 2014.  We shall keep you posted here at NCC.

My complete written testimony in support of HB 3371:

Oregon House Judiciary Committee:

I represent New Approach Oregon, a coalition of local and national activists that favor smart marijuana reform and have come together to advocate for HB 3371.  Please pass House Bill 3371, a measure that will regulate and tax marijuana similar to alcohol and allow for the production of industrial hemp, onto the House Committee on Revenue.  The bill will generate new revenue to help support critical public services and free up limited law enforcement resources for more important priorities, like violent crime.

Marijuana prohibition, like alcohol prohibition, costs taxpayers too much money and enriches criminal organizations.  It is time to take a new approach on marijuana and replace prohibition with a sensible regulatory and taxation framework, especially since Washington recently legalized marijuana.  The Oregonian Editorial Board spoke for a majority of Oregonians when it urged the legislature to take the lead on this issue, stating that, “Our neighbors to the north will collect millions of dollars in new ‘sin’ taxes, with much of the money coming from Oregonians who’d be happy to keep their business—and taxes—in state if given the opportunity.”

Under HB 3371, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) will license and regulate the state’s marijuana industry, as the agency will be empowered with the regulatory and tax-collection authority it is currently provided under the state’s alcohol model.  This new industry will create much-needed jobs and generate millions of dollars in new revenue for the state, while also saving millions in law enforcement and court costs.  The bill allocates 40% of revenue for education, 20% for law enforcement, 20% for the General Fund and 20% for mental health and substance abuse services.

While empowering the OLCC to effectively regulate marijuana, HB 3371, also maintains strong, sensible regulations.  Usage of marijuana by minors under 21 years of age will still be illegal and the OLCC will be tasked with ensuring that retail outlets don’t provide to minors, just as the agency does with alcohol.  Additionally, marijuana may not be distributed within 1,000 feet from schools, public use is prohibited, DUI laws remain and employers are still free to implement Drug Free Workplace policies. The bill also provides the OLCC the power to implement new rules and regulations as needed.

House Bill 3371 will also allow Oregon farmers to produce industrial hemp, a low-potency form of marijuana with many uses, such as paper, fiber and textile products.  Ending hemp prohibition will provide our farmers with a sustainable, profitable new crop while creating jobs across multiple business sectors in Oregon.

It is inevitable that marijuana prohibition will be repealed in Oregon, likely sooner rather than later.  House Bill 3371 provides the Oregon Legislature the opportunity to lead on the issue and craft a law that makes sense for Oregonians—a measure that not only generates revenue, but also better utilizes our law enforcement resources.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this bill,

Anthony Johnson

Executive Director, New Approach Oregon

Source: National Cannabis Coalitionmake a donation


About Author

Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the PAC responsible for Measure 91, that ended cannabis prohibition for all Oregon adults in 2014. In addition to helping organize the International Cannabis Business Conference & the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, he also serves as a Board Member of the National Cannabis Coalition, working to legalize cannabis across the country and Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization specifically working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.


  1. IMHO, this is all still insanity, while I am glad for more liberal laws concerning what I have done for over 40 years anyway, smoke pot, it is still the same ole crap, cannabis should be no different than carrots, just another plant we use, however we should chose, no tax, no regulation, no jail time for growing plants.

  2. the new law would allow for 6 plants and 24 ounces personal use. not totally free but a whole lot closer.

  3. blue republic on

    which has a lot to do with why legalization is such a slog – people think the NRA is a powerful lobby but compared to
    Big Pharma and Monsanto? Not even close.

  4. blue republic on

    Well, not as good as giving marijuana the legal status of tomatoes or dandelions – but I suppose it’s positive news overall.

    Meanwhile, nearly all of the Oregon congressional delegation seem to be very comfortable with federal law that says all marijuana consumers are felons if they possess so much as a single round of ammunition. And all of them appear to be signing on to the current round of legislation who’s stated aim is to prevent all “prohibited persons” from acquiring or possessing guns.

    People like Blumenauer are saying on the one hand that simple marijuana use or possession should not be criminalized and on the other hand that any marijuana user attempting to exercise her/his 2nd Amendment rights *is* a criminal and it’s OK for the federal government to imprison them for ten years…

    Why are we in a situation where Oregon law and voter sentiment are so clearly in favor of decriminalized use/possession and medical marijuana – and when Oregon law has clearly come out in favor of medical marijuana users’ right to possess firearms yet our “representatives” are all lining up
    to enable the federal government to disarm and/or prosecute marijuana users as “dangerous felons”?

  5. Nathan Jimenez N.C.S. on

    the free that I have in this regard with what your saying is that quality will go down and people in this town don’t really know what good weed is lol

  6. Nathan Jimenez N.C.S. on

    It is my business and the business of all Oregonians what peoples reasons for using marijuana is. It is a matter of public health whether it be a matter of medicinal use or recreational use it still is a matter of public health and consumption, and as a matter of taxation and the collection of taxes it becomes a matter of we as citizens making the choice to properly act in the public good and to properly manage those tax dollars that come from marijuana. Now this matter of once again here you misunderstand there are no sanctions there are no legal petty issues because if decriminalized there are no criminal penalties or criminal issues involved because it is decriminalized there is NO criminal issues or sanctions if decriminalized. Now if it is legal sanctions and legality issue can apply. Now however once again you have mixed this up if it is legalized the government can put any sanctions on it as they want just like we have seen technically hemp is legal in this country but you have to get a premit from the government but because its legal and the government determines who or when permits are issued because they have legal control and it is legal they choose not to issue the permits just like they have done at the state level its legal its been legalized but they wont issue the permits. Now also with legalization they can put any sanctions they want but if decriminalized with regulation there would be a free market activity that is regulated by the government and there are just legal perimeters not legal control by the government.

  7. This is no different than alcohol, just needs to be taxed the crap out of it and keep the money here in Oregon instead of Columbia!

  8. Johnny oneye on

    Dealers will just lower street prices to beat the shops
    eventually the cartels will switch to something more lucrative
    What we have in the west is more of a grey market
    quasi – legal ,

  9. Johnny oneye on

    I got that 1
    When the gov stops treating cannabis users as criminals or pariahs
    They can still drink the toxic coolaid , as much as they want !

  10. Johnny oneye on

    Lots of people are giving up Drugs for cannabis
    Hard core opiate addictions like oxy-contin and its stepdad POPPY aka heroin
    Cannabidiol has been effective in curing some peoples addictions to much harder drugs!

  11. Nathan Jimenez N.C.S. on

    What part do you not understand that if it is legalized and a government control format like the liquor control board is put into place the government does have the right to control your behavior and your consumption and usage. They do have the right to call into question your motivations. Where if it was decriminalized there is no criminal penalty and as long as you live within the bounds of the law and the regulations it isn’t anyones business what you do with marijuana. Your motivations are in question the government under a legalization control format has the right to look and control demographic segmentation consumer behavior. With legalization that gives the government the right to control and question your marijuana consumption. Where with decriminalization the government doesn’t have that right it is decriminalized there is no criminal act to this regard as it pertains to marijuana consumption the government only acts as a overseerer in that it only insures that the law is being followed and people are acting within the regulations, and it collects the taxes and disperses it to its properly allocated areas. Fundamentally if you go with the booze control format it sets up control and a command economy like what the facist did if you look in the Websters and define facism as it is truly defined in the American vernacular you will see that it is a matter of a command economy as facism is concerned and if you legalize marijuana it will do this the government will control the process of growing and distribution of marijuana and prices there will be no market force that determines price or consumer behavior. This will raise up a facist state in that it will create as websters defines it as a government that stands for a “centralized autocratic government” and “severe economic and social regimentation” that would have that control under a liquor control format as currently purposed hence why they probably didn’t just amend the hemp law lol. You can see how legalization could fall into this facist definition as defined by the Websters the American vernacular.

  12. Nathan Jimenez N.C.S. on

    Funny you don’t want your motives questioned so what you don’t want people or the government to question your motives or reasons for consuming marijuana lol. You don’t want your motivations know or reason why you consume and choose to consume and use marijuana lol. Well if you legalize it the government has that right to control your usage and bar you at the door lol no you are mistaken decriminalized means decriminalized no criminal penalty and once again you inferred incorrectly you would have more government regulation if you legalize they have the right to say who gets what who gets what permits to grow who can and can’t use because under your framework of legalization the government has that control not only do they have control of the process of the sale of marijuana but they have the right to control it just like they do with booze. Decriminalization eliminates the criminal penalties and sets up a regulatory framework why don’t you get these concepts I don’t know if your are just uneducated about the situation or am I not explaining it well enough lol. Ooh but the government has the right to control it, if it is legalized and they have the right if it is legalized to say who is worthy and who is not just like they can say who can sell booze and who can’t and how many drinks you can have you want the government to say to you ooh nope sorry you can’t smoke a 8th a day nope sorry its legal its like booze control we can say what you can and can’t have with decriminalization they can’t do that its the free industrial market as long as you don’t go against the framework of regulation and stay within the bounds of the law you can do what you want. Why don’t all of you reread my posts. With legalization your fear of being worthy lol will be determined by the government how do you not understand that with what I am saying it perseveres your liberty rather than restricting it lol when we decriminalize lol.

  13. i don’t see anything about personal marijuana growing…… IN WASHINGTON ONLY 180 PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED TO GROW FOR THE WHOLE STATE!!!!!! we need to free the weed!! not limit its cultivation!

  14. To your point about my reasoning for smoking marijuana just to get high. Frankly, it’s none of your damn business why I would want to smoke weed. I don’t want to interfere with your medicine, but I sure as hell don’t want people like you to interfere with my liberty. I have supported medical marijuana, but apparently you and all these “All use is medical” people took that as a sign of weakness rather than a sign of love and solidarity. Decriminalization may mean no criminal penalty, but it still implies sanctions like fines and other forms of petty harassment. I don’t care what you think my motives are, but all I want is legalization for all adult use be it medical or otherwise and I don’t want you standing in the door way telling me that I am not worthy enough to interact with weed. Got it?

  15. Nathan Jimenez N.C.S. on

    People raise the issues about black market it mostly operates in the black market its only people like myself that are medical patients or growers or caregivers that operate legally all these people getting pot without there medical card are getting it in the black market lol come peeps lol get real lol

  16. Nathan Jimenez N.C.S. on

    for them to almost charge street prices goes against the compensation rule for the state

  17. Nathan Jimenez N.C.S. on

    thats not true depends on where you go to the some goes for the most what I have seen 15 a gram where street price is like the old standard 40 dollars for a eighth

  18. Nathan Jimenez N.C.S. on

    No you are misinformed, apparently people like you that don’t seem to understand the distinction between legalized and decriminalized, legalized allows it to be legal with government control let me make that clear “government control” like liquor control liquor control is
    control rather than being decriminalized where there is no criminal offense for marijuana. Which to a certain degree it already is decriminalized here in Oregon but with full decriminalization there wouldn’t be a situation unless consumption on the street and not in designated areas like pot clubs or in your home or where there are
    designated areas to smoke pot there wouldn’t be a criminal charge for marijuana usage. Let me make this clear even further because you all seem to misunderstand the issue and we have seen how peoples economic interest have clouded what is best for Oregonians and the People of this country. Decriminalization would also mean that there would be no
    criminal offense for marijuana consumption and then there would be a a set of government regulation rather than government control. We have to have the market determine the industry just as regular economic models
    work, but we of course have to have tight and a balanced approach to regulation to stop corruption and to insure the proper legal usage of marijuana, and the proper collection of taxes that would go to benefit
    and help people and bring about the solutions to the social ills of our time. This issue should and is about sustainability, and the collection of taxes for the benefit and good of society to help make peoples lives
    better. We have seen how the liquor control boards and approach how it runs legal distribution of booze and how the government runs the booze industry controls the booze industry here in Oregon this is not a balanced sensible approach. Nor is the way the legislature has currently done it the way they have written this recent law and taken it out of committee that is also not a balanced legislative approach all they
    would have had to do is amend the hemp law that the legislature already passed and the governor signed in to law Governor Ted. All they would have had to do is amend the hemp law to also include marijuana. We have
    seen how governments run and control the booze industry they were thrown out of controlling booze in Washington state and it might move that way
    here in Oregon. Don’t you think its odd that the government wants you to want legalization rather than decriminalization and put it under liquor control or use that model to do it they don’t call it control for
    nothing liquor control lol. Control is control. Decriminalization means that it is decriminalized that there is no criminal offense and if it is retroactive and helps get people out of prison for marijuana offenses this would actually help people and save the prison system money.
    Decriminalization doesn’t call for the government to control weed it calls for it to regulate weed. We need a strong regulatory framework that doesn’t impune on the rights of commerce but only regulates it to
    insure that the marijuana industry acts int he public good and provides for safe access for patients first and regular marijuana consumers second. With proper regulation it would properly manage the marijuana industry. Further more there isn’t proper medical marijuana reform in the
    state as it is nor is there is proper judicial or legislative, tax or government reform, and no I haven’t forgotten that I am in a medical marijuana state and in fact there are so many medical marijuana states we could call for a constitutional amendment on medical marijuana. I am a medical marijuana patient who has had my card for 3 years here in
    Oregon. I have also been to alot of the marijuana clubs and coops here in Oregon also In fact my grower has been the same grower that I have had for those 3 years and he is among the original medical marijuana act writers that wrote the original medical marijuana initiative. Not the crazy crap laws that people like Phil Stanford have tried to push. Further more my grower doesn’t support any of these crazy attempts of unbalanced approaches to marijuana policy that have shown their ugly heads at the
    bequest of people like Phil Stanford. I would say that bespeaks alot that the man that was among one of the original writers of the Oregon Medical Marijuana act is for decriminalization Nor do I support the current legalization incarnations. My grower was also a dear good and valued friend of Jack Herer. He supports decriminalization I also do hemp product brokering as part of how I make
    a living so you all have criticized me irrationally without knowing thefacts I would venture to say I would question your motives lol. Where do your interest lie is it for sustainability and doing what is good for people and what is in the public good or is it to get high and line
    your pockets. What you seem to forget is that marijuana is about illuminating the mind and healing the body that’s the true purpose of marijuana it should be peoples fundamental reasons for people to consume
    marijuana you just sound like you want to smoke pot to get high getting high is just one of those added nice additional benefits but not its primary purpose it’s a herb and it is a controlled substance it is a medicine no I don’t want people to wait I believe that we should have
    balanced well written approach to the law. We can’t just do it for the sake of doing it. We have to have a sensible approach to marijuana consumption and the regulation of the industry not a control of the industry. We have to allow economic models to work yet provide a good sensible regulatory framework If we are going to put forward a law it should stand the test of time. We should get it right the first time not fiddle faddle around and by the way the legislative approach they have already taken
    in this regard is a wrong legislative approach like I said they just have to amend and add to the hemp law we already have on the books to fix this problem. I would even further venture to say that the approaches that have been put forward in recent years which by the way
    Oregonians have rejected at the ballot box 3 times to changes to the marijuana laws that we have on the books 2 times have Oregonians voted and rejected dispensaries, and Oregonians have voted against legalization they soundly rejected a legalization approach course the
    laws that were put forward were written incorrectly nor were they wise legislative policy. Your failed legalization approaches when brought to the ballot box has been rejected by sensible Oregonians and allowing the government control approach is not a good approach your liquor control which is a government control approach is not a wise approach nor does it speak to the matters of natural law it impunes on the rights of people to consume and conduct commerce rather than government being a industry regulator it is a industry controller, your government liquor control
    approach is a command economy approach that is nazist by definition not the other way around you have been misinformed. Decimalization means not criminal penalty.

  19. An ounce of high quality in door hydroponic medicine, costs way more than $32 to produce… Cost of electricity, nutrients, equipment, and medium, throw in the ammount of time and labor involved, and current rates vs current potency are pretty reasonable…
    Seriously, consider the factors involved, and its only easy to grow poorly… Most of the medicine that I’ve seen, in collectives, or black market, maybe 20% is actually a quality grown product.

  20. Sentence correction: I want legal access to cannabis without having to fear neo-Nazi drug warriors.

  21. You were the one that said that you didn’t want legalization, but decriminalization. Decriminalization means that there are still sanctions and penalties against marijuana users. It also means that the black market is given monopoly. All decriminalization does is make the persecution of cannabis users more comfortable. I don’t want my oppression to be more comfortable, I want legal access to cannabis having to fear neo-Nazi drug warriors. It’s amazing that you first post something that begs many questions and then accuse others of muddying the waters. Also, you seem oblivious to the fact that Oregon is a medical marijuana state and that patients already have access to medical cannabis. I just want all adult users to have the same right and they shouldn’t have to wait just because you want them to. How long do you want adult users to wait? Until 2016? 2024? 2050? 2100? 2250? Never? You also people like me who advocate legalization, “Crazy”. Really? That’s the same rhetoric that drug warriors use. You just made their day.

  22. Marijuana does have significant negative effects for heavy users.

    However, those negative effects pale in comparison to the negative effects of our current prohibition model

    He says ‘this bill will not make the problems of Cannabis use go away,’ and he is correct. What he fails to mention is that the current approach sure as HELL isn’t making the problems going away, so he has no leg to stand on.

  23. Nathan Jimenez N.C.S. on

    There is nothing that I said in my previous statements that I am advocating for the black market, I believe it should be taxed and regulated decriminalized first and we have to insure patient access. Which by the way it already operates mostly in the black market for the most part here in Oregon or in personal arrangements between the grower and the patient, and God only knows what other grower activities go on as well. So lets not muddy the waters with that discussion, I would say go with a case management approach that oversees production, and transfer of marijuana products between parties and then when money changes hands then you tax the crap out of it. Further more we have to insure that patients get their medicine there medical marijuana first then go from there with people and also license the growers and retailers and food processors and license those that work in the industry, and when they have a transfer of money for services or product you tax them at a rate. So lets not muddy the waters with conjecture about what I said, further more I would say of course that before you even discuss a case management approach all case management by the state of Oregon should be reformed just like we also need judicial reform as well, along with tax reform. So lets not go down that crazy road that you’re advocating for. If taxes are collected then that should go towards solving the social ills of our time and to go towards helping make peoples lives better. The taxes that would be collected lets look at that as a issue that first it should be a flat tax then it should be taxed as income that is collected from the purchase from the exchange of money. However like I said we need general government reform.

  24. Is anyone really suprised that the members of one of the biggest criminal organizations ((Sheriff’s departments)) are opposed to this? The bill will half empty jails and force police to work with smaller, more reasonable budgets. They have less reasons to justify the sports cars and motorcycles they putter around on with our tax dollars.

  25. Haha, no, because I hold a basic understanding of first grade mathematics…..Not sure where you live, but we pay 2.00 per pound for tomatoes here….and tomato growers are still making a profit after paying for costs associated of production. That is, after they grow acres and acres with heavy pesticides and little to no hands on maintenance for the life of the plant. Go make fire with that budget, I’d love to see the pics. I completely agree that there is unnecessary hype in the industry, and seasoned growers can do it for far cheaper with far less, but to argue that tomatoes are a fine comparison is asinine at best.

  26. thepotriotsociety on

    why because they are right? you don’t need to be sucked into the last fad of nutes, lights, tents, to grow fire, nuff said.

  27. marijuana sells for 1000-2000 per pound depending on time of year in california. on the east coast that same pound sells for 4000-5000 dollars. that is hardly the same

  28. Gilbert Donovan on

    “This act will not make the problems of marijuana abuse go away,” he told the House Judiciary Committee.”…..WHAT problems exactly? Jail for offenders? Midnight raids on peaceful people? People getting their doors kicked in and their heads blown off by rabidly over zealous cops? those problems?

  29. Its because they want to discourage people from going to dispensaries and getting weed for cheap and selling on the street for higher street prices. If they match the street prices that exist due to federal/state prohibition then folks cant do this, When it is legally federally/state-wide/locally then the legal prices -will- drop (its been estimated that an ounce of cannabis could potentially cost as little as 32 dollars in a legal market), prohibition artificially inflates prices and people pay them because of the law of supply/demand. They just need to end the prohibition of cannabis.

  30. “This act will not make the problems of marijuana abuse go away,” he told the House Judiciary Committee.
    No but it will raise the cost of your donut addiction fat ass. We don’t make the laws, we just eat them.

  31. Huh? It is decriminalized already. You don’t have regulation and control without FULL legalization. Are you a dealer or grower?

  32. Two factors will contribute to lowering prices. First, we need to allow it to be done on large scales with competition that drives the profit margin lower. And second, we need to make sure that we’re not taxing it so hard that it can’t undermine the street prices. Most current grow operations suffer from either over-inflated prices or overtaxed product. But as you mentioned there are still alot of risks involved which helps to drive the price up and discourage competition.

  33. Why? If I created a new genre of music I wouldn’t create new music listeners, I would merely give people a new option. The same is true of substances. People will merely have a new choice instead of alcohol or the pills they get from their friends. This is why every State with a medical marijuana program has seen at least a 9% decrease in traffic fatalities, because that many people stopped using alcohol.

    Any model I’ve ever studied has shown that alcohol use is more dangerous, and can be decreased by giving people another legal option. Why would we force people toward the more dangerous substance and call it logic or harm prevention? It is time that we got past the predispositions and fears of the past and used an actual harm reduction model.

  34. Nathan Jimenez N.C.S. on

    We need decriminalization with regulation and a regulatory framework not legalization this is not a good approach to sensible marijuana regulatory process

  35. Yes I’ll tell you. It’s because it cost money to grow. Indoors: Nutrients, pest control products, lights, electricity, grow medium, bulbs, ballasts, etc….You have a cleaner and better grown product indoors. Outdoors: you’ll need the same for outdoors as indoors just no timers or lights. Time of year 4-20 To September or October depends on the strain. HAHAHA “EASY TO GROW”. It’s not easy. You should try it if you think it’s easy

  36. I’m curious why the price of weed at the clinics seems roughly the same as street dealer prices. I was always under the impression the driving force in determining weeds monetary value , which seems high for a “weed”, was the fact it’s illegal and there are criminal risks. If it’s legal and so easy to grow. Why doe’s the price remain so high? Greed? Can anyone besides Warren Buffet explain this to me ??

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