U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley plans to vote for Measure 91, which would legalize marijuana for recreational use in Oregon, making him the first U.S. senator to do so, according to Talking Points Memo.
“I lean in support of it,” the Democratic senator told Sahil Kapur, TPM’s senior congressional reporter last week. (Oregonian senior political reporter Jeff Mapes reported on Merkley’s stance earlier this month.)
“I think folks on both sides of the argument make a good case,” Merkley said. “And there is concern about a series of new products — and we don’t have a real track record from Colorado and Washington. But I feel on balance that we spend a lot of money on our criminal justice system in the wrong places and I lean in favor of this ballot measure.”
Other marijuana news worth a look this morning:
Mark Kleiman, the chief pot consultant to Washington, chimed in last week with his take on Oregon’s legalization measure. Bottom line: Measure 91 is imperfect and, if passed, should be fixed by the Oregon Legislature, but it’s worth a yes vote.
Of the measure’s shortcomings, Kleiman writes:
Measure 91 does not reflect a sophisticated understanding of the problems of illicit markets or a nuanced view about substance use disorder. Focusing on the goal of eradicating the illicit cannabis market in Oregon, it doesn’t pay enough attention to the risk that Oregon might become a source of illicit supply to neighboring states. Focusing exclusively on preventing use by minors, it neglects the risk of increasing dependency among adults.
The basic fact about a legal cannabis market is that the product will be remarkably cheap to grow; once competition and industrial-style production have taken effect, a legal joint would cost (before tax) about what a tea-bag costs, rather than the illegal or medical-dispensary price, which is 100 times as high. And the tax provided for in Measure 91 would add only about 50 cents to the price of a joint: not a high price to pay for two hours or more of being stoned.
And finally, marijuana is a hot topic in the tight race for Colorado governor, CBS News reports.
— Noelle Crombie