Analysis, Commentary

After One Year of Legalized Marijuana, It Is Clear That Oregon Voters Got It Right

Millions of dollars have been added to the state’s coffers, thousands of jobs have been created and many lives have been improved.

OREGON–(ENEWSPF)–July 1, 2016.  Oregon can celebrate one year of legalized adult use of marijuana, knowing that they have better prioritized law enforcement resources and raised revenue for important social services. The state has been an example for the rest of the country to follow as more and more voters and public officials understand that marijuana regulation is a much better policy than prohibition.

“Thanks to over 56% of Oregon voters, we have made history and become national leaders in marijuana law reform,” said Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner of the Yes on 91 campaign to legalize marijuana. “Policy makers and legislators have helped craft many sensible rules and regulations, but there’s still a lot to do, and this is just the beginning.”

Johnson and New Approach Oregon successfully advocated for an earlier start to regulated sales for marijuana and the state has already started generating more tax revenue than originally projected from legalized sales. Cannabis commerce has reportedly created more than 2,000 jobs to go along with about $15 million in new tax revenue after just the first three months of taxed sales. Later in the fall, more marijuana products will be available to all adults over the age of 21, likely increasing the tax dollars being collected.

Even more important than tax dollars, are the lives that have been improved due to legalization and its aftermath. New Approach Oregon helped lead the legislative efforts that reduced marijuana-related criminal penalties even further and allowed for the expungement of past marijuana offenses. More than 500 Oregonians have taken advantage of expunging old marijuana penalties from their records since Measure 91 passed in 2014

Oregon still needs to bring much of the state into the regulated system as too many localities have banned regulated marijuana sales. These bans hurt the statewide system and deny local residents much-needed jobs and tax dollars. Additionally, the state still needs to reduce more marijuana penalties; ensure that low-income patients have safe access to medicine; and allow social consumption locations for adults. While more changes are still needed, Oregonians can be pleased by how far the state has already come.

It has been a full year since Oregon adults 21 and over could legally possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana in their home; one ounce away from home; and cultivate up to four cannabis plants out of public view. Clearly, the sky hasn’t fallen as Oregon has benefited from the new jobs and revenue.

Several other states, including California, look poised to legalize marijuana this November, as the nation moves closer and closer to ending federal marijuana prohibition. Marijuana prohibition, just like alcohol prohibition before it, creates crime and wastes resources. Oregon can be proud to be a true trailblazer in moving past the harmful policy of prohibition.

Source: New Approach Oregon