Pro and Con on Measure 91 - Legalizing recreational marijuana

Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson
Robert E. Mason
Robert E. Mason

Yes on Measure 91

By Anthony Johnson

Treating marijuana use as a crime has failed. Last year, more than 11,000 adults were arrested or cited for marijuana use in Oregon, according to the Oregon State Police. One in every 14 arrests in Oregon is for small marijuana offenses; that’s 7 percent of all arrests in the state. It is distracting police and sheriffs from taking on violent crimes, and it perpetuates a system run by organized gangsters and cartels.

One of the best ways to understand how the mechanics of Measure 91 work is to compare the current system of prohibition to a regulated system we could have by passing this measure.

Right now, marijuana is sold in back alleys and on playing fields. The sellers — drug dealers — don’t ask for ID, aren’t held accountable when they sell to young people and don’t provide any drug prevention or education programs.

Purchasers don’t really know what they’re getting because the product is untested, unlabeled and unregulated, while gangs and cartels turn a tax-free profit.

Under the regulated system of Measure 91, marijuana would be sold at licensed, audited, inspected, properly-zoned facilities strictly regulated and away from schools. Sellers would be licensed salespeople who have passed background checks. They would ask for ID and would be held accountable in sting operations to ensure they don’t sell to youth. The system would be safer and more just.

Only adults 21 and older could legally buy and possess marijuana. The product would be tested and packaged in labelled, child-proof containers. Money from purchases would flow through legitimate businesses, and taxes generated would be used for essential public services. Under Measure 91, taxes on sales would be used for schools, state and local police, mental health and addiction services, drug treatment and drug prevention programs. This revenue would be distributed through a special account that, by law, must be used for these programs.

When it comes to regulating, taxing and legalizing marijuana, Oregon has the benefit of going third. We’ve already learned a lot from Washington and Colorado’s legalization of marijuana. Measure 91 is designed to take advantage of lessons learned from Washington and Colorado’s laws and improve upon them.

And Measure 91 has been designed with built-in flexibility to continue adjusting the law in the future if needed. By the time the first licensed storefronts open in Oregon in 2016, the three states would have nearly a decade of combined experience and data to draw from.

To quote former Oregon Supreme Court Justice William Riggs, “I think it’s inevitable that marijuana is coming to Oregon in one form or another, and I hope it comes in the form of a good bill like this one. If we are going to have marijuana in Oregon, this is the way to do it.”

Measure 91 is comprehensive — more than 35 pages long — and writing it was a huge project. It went through more than 50 drafts. We received input and help from many with a stake in the outcome, including parents, law enforcement, tax experts, legislative lawyers, drug treatment specialists, Democrats, Republicans, independents and the governor’s office.

We studied what worked in other states, and we based this law on one that’s already in effect in Oregon — the laws used to control beer, wine and liquor — because we wanted to use existing state infrastructure and not create a new agency. Yet, under Measure 91 marijuana is even more strictly regulated than alcohol. Public use would be prohibited, and there would be limits on the amount one could buy or possess at any given time.

It is inevitable that marijuana will be legalized — and when that happens, we need the right restrictions in place. Measure 91 controls marijuana from seed to sale, penalizes access by minors, maintains drug-free workplace rules and prevents public use.

Measure 91 is by far the most restrictive and responsible plan for regulation, taxation and legalization of marijuana ever put before Oregon voters. Please read it yourself at www.voteyeson91.com.

Anthony Johnson of Portland, chief petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, previously practiced law in Oregon.

No on Measure 91

By Robert E. Mason

I was ready to vote for the legalization of marijuana until the spring 2014 issue of my alma mater’s magazine, ““Columbia Magazine,” arrived. An article by Paul Hood, “Breaking Through,” summarized research findings of university medical campus scientists on questions probative of whether recreational use of marijuana should be legalized.

Their findings swayed me against legalizing marijuana.

 1. Marijuana is addictive. The first empirical demonstration of a withdrawal syndrome for cannabis was found in 1999 at Columbia’s marijuana research laboratory. Subjects lived for 21 days in the lab’s bedrooms and common space, where their behavior was monitored on closed-circuit TV. They received an alternating course of marijuana and a placebo.

“Sleep disruption is one of the most robust withdrawal symptoms,” said Margaret Haney, professor of clinical neurobiology and lab director. “The smokers had trouble falling asleep. They woke up in the night. They woke up early. Their mood, too, reflected classic drug-withdrawal symptoms: irritability, anxiety, restlessness. The … disruption in mood and sleep lasted for a week to 10 days.

“The consequences of dependence are not as severe as with alcohol, cocaine and other things. However, once you’re a daily smoker, your ability to stop becomes as poor as a cocaine user’s. Only 15 to 37 percent are able to maintain abstinence.” The physical withdrawal symptoms don’t come close to heroin’s, but for Haney, it’s the psychological part — the anxiety, the craving — that really drives relapse.

“These withdrawal symptoms for marijuana are significant,” she said. “They play a role in maintaining heavy drug use.”

Heavy use concerns Haney. In legalization discussions, she isn’t hearing much about the consequences of smoking an intoxicant every day.

“There’s going to be a cost for teenagers doing that,” she said. “I do worry about the developing brain and the effect of heavy marijuana use on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. The CB-1 cannabinoid receptor, where THC binds, is virtually everywhere in our brain, in areas involved with mood and memory and stress response.” THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.

Haney wonders what the effect of smoking marijuana every day would be on a 15-year-old, whose brain is still developing,

2. Marijuana is a powerful drug. It is much more powerful than it was in the 1960s when John Lennon called it a “harmless giggle.” Herbert Kleber, director of the division of substance abuse at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, explains:

“In the 1960s, marijuana ... was about 2 percent THC. Now, the THC level of the average DCA seizure is about 12 percent. At the dispensaries in California and Colorado, it’s 15 to 30 percent. It’s a very different drug; a very, very powerful drug.”

In a 2009 op-ed piece on marijuana, Kleber wrote, “There are a number of very serious side effects, including increased likelihood of cancer, impaired immune system and increased chance of other drug problems, such as addiction to opiates. Some studies disagree on these. Recently, substantial evidence has been published linking marijuana use to earlier onset of schizophrenia and other psychoses.”

Kleber recognizes the plant’s success in “relieving chemotherapy-induced nausea and boosting food intake in AIDS patients, and emphasizes that there are synthetic medications in pill form, such as dronabinol and nabilone, FDA-approved for these conditions.” One component of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), is being studied for treating childhood epilepsy.

Notwithstanding these possible health benefits, Kleber emphasizes the drug’s perils — especially for young people.

 “People who start smoking marijuana in their teens are much more likely to get into trouble with it and get addicted,” he said.

And not just addicted.

“Marijuana does affect the brain. The younger you are when you start using it, the greater the risk it will cause brain damage that will be with you the rest of your life.”

I, for one, do not think we should take this risk and will, therefore, vote against legalizing marijuana.

Guest writer Robert Mason, retired from administration at Columbia University, taught graduate courses in social welfare policy.


I Am Darren Wilson

The bottom line is that nobody 'needs' pot. Just like nobody 'needs' booze. vote no on measure 91.


Vote for the productive future of our country, vote no on 91.

ABN Veteran

Ever since Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana, there have been nothing but problems, and I mean problems. Kids getting a hold of it through brownies laced with it and getting sick, teens are getting access to it far easier than ever before, and the undereducated lazy welfare blood sucking individuals can now buy it with their EBT cards and/or Food Stamps. It's a cyclical cycle of stoned and lazy people who take advantage of this when the real people who need it medically get hurt.

It does not take much as of late to get a willing doctor to prescribe so-called "medical" marijuana, and the pathetic reasons being given to give the excuse for these people to smoke it is just asinine.

Headaches, anxiety, Fibromyalgia, etc. Please...

I suffer from a lot of things (to include the above and then some) do to my military service, and I don't need or want "medical" marijuana, mind over matter. It's all about having a positive mental attitude, surrounding yourself with positive people, enjoying life, and watching what you eat, exercise what little you can, and just be happy. Smoking marijuana is nothing more than a scapegoat to get high and be a burden on society.

Only those with serious medical conditions (e.g. cancer) should be allowed to use "medical" marijuana.

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS