Legalization Initiative in Oregon Submits Over 145,000 Signatures

The New Approach Oregon campaign has reportedly collected more than 145,000 signatures for their cause, which means that Oregon voters can expect to see marijuana legalization up for vote once more in November’s election.

The organization needs 87,213 valid voter signatures by July 3 to get on Oregon’s ballot. Anticipating at least one third of the collected signatures to be deemed invalid, the campaign’s push for voters’ signatures extended well beyond the required amount. The campaign’s initial goal of 100,000 signatures was achieved sometime last week. The final accumulation of signatures was submitted to the Secretary of State’s office on Thursday at 2 PM.

“We are confident that our measure to regulate, legalize and tax marijuana will qualify for the November ballot and that Oregonians are open to the case for a smarter and more responsible approach to marijuana,” Peter Zuckerman, the spokesman for New Approach Oregon, announced on Wednesday.

Initiative Petition 53 — a.k.a. the Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act — would, if passed, allow adults aged 21 and older to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana, and to grow no more than four marijuana plants for personal use. The Initiative would also provide regulations for selling marijuana to adults. Pot sales would be subjected to a flat tax of $35 per ounce of marijuana flowers, $10 per ounce of marijuana leaves, and $5 per immature marijuana plant.

A Survey USA poll taken earlier this month found that a slight majority of Oregon voters support the legalization and regulation of marijuana. The poll did not, however, differentiate between support specifically for New Approach Oregon’s campaign and for the notion of legalization in general.

With the signature drive coming to a close, New Approach Oregon is putting renewed efforts into fundraising to see the campaign through to a successful finish. Their website currently boasts a fundraising drive wherein any contributions made by July 3 will be matched by an anonymous donor, up to a maximum of $10,000. The campaign has already raised more than $1.7 million, though much of that money was spent gathering signatures to see the initiative make the ballot.

“We are poised to make history in November,” said campaign manager Dan Mahr on the subject. “But campaigns require a significant investment of time and money. And to succeed, it’s critical that everyone who is passionate about legalization invests.”

Three months ago, it looked as if Oregon voters might have had the luxury of choosing between three different legalization initiatives; as of this week, however, New Approach Oregon is the last campaign standing. Paul Stanford — who was the initiator behind Oregon’s 2012 attempt at legalization, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act — announced earlier this week that he was giving up on two separate ballot measures that would have also put the legalization and regulation of marijuana up for vote in November.

“We have decided, given that we were just at about 50,000 signatures, that we do not have the wherewithal to move forward and qualify for the ballot so we stopped this week our paid petition drive,” Stanford announced on Friday. 

Given that Oregon voters very nearly passed the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act in 2012 (with 47% in favor, 53% against) despite any major funding, many Oregon ganjapreneurs are hopeful for November’s election — the state’s second attempt at making marijuana history.


Photo Credit: Coleen Whitfield

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