22 Oct

Legalizing pot better than current fiasco

The issue on Measure 91 isn’t whether you think people should be smoking marijuana.

The issue is whether you think our current marijuana laws work.

And if you think that, you might be smoking something.

Millions of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, use marijuana. In Oregon, and many other states, we’ve even made it easier, with medical marijuana regulations that can amount to a series of winks. When we do enforce our laws, the effect is arbitrary, with a strong racial component.

Meanwhile, we also know there are counties in Southern Oregon and Northern California where marijuana is the chief cash crop.

We need to go a different way. We need to recognize that marijuana is widely used, to regulate and tax it, and to stop wrecking people’s lives at random. Seven percent of Oregon arrests are still for simple pot possession, and police have better things to do.

Use by minors, and sale to minors, would still be banned, and it’s hard to see how legalization will make their access any easier. The law can be adjusted by the Legislature, perhaps to avoid some of Colorado’s problems with edibles, or Washington’s issues with tax rates.

Measure 91 only has to be better than a system that’s clearly failed.

NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV 10/18/14

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