2013 promises to be a good year for those of us who believe that Prohibition has cost our society, in terms of law enforcement costs, criminalizing young people who would not otherwise be in the legal system, and loss of tax revenue to help our schools and social service network.
On May 30, 2013 the Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 281 to allow people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) to qualify for Oregon’s Medical Marijuana program. It awaits the Governor’s signature. This is a special boost to Oregon’s returning war veterans and victims of serious trauma and violence.
The Senate passed SB 40 which realigns the felony level designations of Manufacturing and Possession from Schedule I to Schedule II and creates misdemeanor marijuana possession (more than one ounce, less than four ounces and misdemeanor hashish possession. They also passed SB 82 which lifts the driver’s license suspension for conviction of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
HB 3460 adds “Medical Marijuana Facility” to the list of cardholders under the OMAA and allows growers with the patient’s permission, to be fully reimbursed for their excess marijuana by medical marijuana facilities. This would functionally legalize Oregon’s defacto distribution/dispensary system.
HB 3371 which would legalize and tax marijuana has been filed in the legislature. It would legalize the production, processing and sale of cannabis for adults 21 years and older and would allow up to six mature plans and 24 ounces of dried cannabis. Oregon Health Authority would license producers and retailers and the OLCC would oversee taxation of cannabis. Cannabis would be taxed $35 per ounce with proceeds going to the State Police, schools and services for providing mental health and alcohol and drug treatment. If passed it would take effect on Jul 1,2014.
On May 21 the Oregon District Attorney’s Association urged the state to reduce penalties for marijuana offenses as a way of reducing spending on prison beds. It would prevent most marijuana offenders from going to prison.
The icing on the cake came from the Court of Appeals in State v Kingsmith where the Court ruled that “the general odor of marijuana in a vehicle does not alone give rise to a reasonable suspicion that a passenger of that vehicle has committed a crime”. This has been a serious problem for defense attorneys in fighting pretext drug stops with the odor of marijuana.
All this indicates that the winds of change are not only blowing but they are reaching a stiff breeze that will bring about the event that we have been working toward since 1972. The end of Marijuana Prohibition! Join me and my office in fighting this good fight!