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New Approach Oregon Begins Gathering Signatures for 2014 Pot Legalization Initiative

By: Friday April 18, 2014 8:58 am

New Approach Oregon can begin gathering signatures this Thursday

The well funded New Approach Oregon campaign was finally able to begin gathering signatures this Thursday to get their marijuana legalization initiative on the 2014 November ballot.

They have just under three months to gather the roughly 87,000 valid signatures if they want to qualify. While that is a short window, the campaign claims they are confident they can get it down.

The measure is roughly similar to the 2010 initiatives approved in Colorado and Washington State. It would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and have it regulated like alcohol. Oversight of the licensing of recreational marijuana growers and stores would be under the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

The law would permit limited home growing and give municipalities the ability to vote on banning local marijuana businesses.

It is not the only legalization initiative trying to get on the ballot. In addition, the people behind the failed 2012 initiative are gathering signatures for two measures. One would simply amend the state constitution to say adults can possess and produce marijuana subject to state regulation. The other is an initiative which legalizes marijuana creating specific rules for its regulation and taxation. While this new version of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act is similar to the initiative that lost in 2012, some changes were made to address the most common criticisms of the previous effort.

Overwhelming Support for Medical Marijuana in Key Presidential Swing States

By: Friday April 18, 2014 7:55 am

It can not be highlighted enough just how huge the disconnect is between regular voters and federal politicians on marijuana. Quinnipiac polling just tweeted this graph of their recent state medical marijuana poll. From Qunnipiac:

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In the top swing states of Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Iowa over 80 percent of voters back allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana. It is possibly the least controversial policy issue that has not yet been adopted.

It should be considered unacceptable for any presidential candidate in 2016 to not at least support changing federal law to allow medical marijuana.

Alaska Pot Legalization Campaign Will Donate to Opponents if They Can Prove Alcohol Is Less Harmful Than Pot

By: Thursday April 17, 2014 11:03 am

Obviously, the legalization campaign is in no danger of losing the money. The scientific research is clear on the relative danger of alcohol and marijuana use.

This is one of the better political stuns I’ve heard about in a long time. The Alaska marijuana legalization ballot initiative campaign promised to donate to their opponent’s campaign if they can prove alcohol is safer than pot. From the Alaska Dispatch:

In a Wednesday morning press conference, supporters of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska stood outside a downtown Anchorage office building with a giant novelty check written out to “No on 2/ Project S.A.M.” for $9,015 — the same amount of money the alcohol lobby donated to former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy during his time in office. Kennedy is the co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national group that opposes marijuana legalization.

The event served as a challenge to opponents of the Alaska measure — a group collectively known as “Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No On 2″– to show the public the science proving that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.

Obviously, the legalization campaign is in no danger of losing the money. The scientific research is clear on the relative danger of alcohol and marijuana use. And Americans are quickly coming to understand this. The latest Pew poll found 69 percent think alcohol is more dangerous to an individual’s health than pot, while only 15 percent see pot as more dangerous that alcohol.

This “marijuana is safer” message proved to be very effective in Colorado during their 2012 legalization campaign and it should be a big focus in Alaska this year as well.

 Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy. The ebook is on sale for $1.99 his week in celebration of 4/20.

The Unusual Way This 4/20 Will Shape the Future of Marijuana Legalization

By: Wednesday April 16, 2014 11:49 am

If the Alaska legislative session doesn’t end by 4/20 the marijuana ballot measure moves to the general election in November

This April 20th will have a real impact on the future of marijuana legalization in the United States, and it has nothing to do with the pro-pot celebration taking place that day.

At issue is the Alaska marijuana legalization initiative. Currently it is set to appear on the primary ballot this August 19th, but under Alaska law if the state legislative session doesn’t conclude 120 days before the primary date the initiatives must be moved back to the November general election ballot.

The cutoff is the scheduled end of this current session on Sunday, which just happens to be 4/20. At the moment it looks like the legislature may not finish by 4/20. If they end up going into extended session the vote on the legalization initiative will be delayed until November.

On the positive side, having the initiative moved to the November ballot should potentially help it do slightly better, which could theoretically make a difference since the polling shows the issue is fairly close. Recent polling found 52 percent support the measure while 44 percent oppose it. Young voters tend to make up a greater percentage of the general election turnout and they overwhelmingly back legalization.

From a national messaging perspective, though, having the initiative bumped off the August ballot would be slightly disappointing. An August victory would likely receive much more national coverage. It would have been one of the only big anticipated national political stories that month, compared to November when it could be buried by senate and gubernatorial election results.

Spreading out the initiative might also create a greater sense of momentum among the public. In addition having the measure on the August ballot would be a unique opportunity to test legalization’s ability to drive youth turnout. That could be a helpful piece of data for convincing politicians that supporting marijuana reform is a smart political move.

Whether it ends up on the August ballot or the November ballot Alaska will likely legalize marijuana in the near future.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy. The ebook is on sale for $1.99 this week.

New Jersey Voters Don’t Think You Should be Punished for Possessing Pot

By: Tuesday April 15, 2014 12:54 pm

A majority of all age groups, income levels, and religious afflictions want to eliminate all penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, but governor Chris Christie is opposed

As with the rest of the country attitudes towards marijuana policy are shifting rapidly in New Jersey. There is overwhelming support in the state for a full decriminalization of pot. According to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll 65 percent of voters want to eliminate all penalties for the possession of a small amount of marijuana.

A majority of all age groups, income levels, and religious afflictions back this policy. In fact the only subgroups in the state that actually disagree with this change are Republicans and Conservatives. Republicans oppose this change 56 percent to 41 percent. This unfortunately should make it difficult to pressure Gov. Chris Christie (R) on the issue, since he is currently very focused on winning over Republicans votersfor a possible 2016 Presidential bid.

The poll also found a narrow plurality of voters want the sale and use of marijuana to be “completely legalized.” Among voters 49 percent back the complete legalizing of marijuana sales while 48 percent disagree. This represents a dramatic 14 point increase in support for full legalization since the end of 2011 when they last polled on the issue. That is a huge shift in less than four years.

Not surprisingly, support for legalization  is strongest among Democrats, Liberals and young voters while opposition mainly comes from Republicans, Conservatives, and senior citizens.

These result are almost identical to a Monmouth University poll from earlier this month. It found 48 percent in support of legalized cannabis for personal use and 47 percent opposed.

 Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy. The ebook is on sale for $1.99 this week.

Photo by Peter Stevens, used under Creative Commons license

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