Category Archives: Politics

Marijuana Legalization and Oregon Measure 80

Marijuana has been mentioned in documents since humans learned to write.  Oregon, as well as the rest of the world, has an evolving history with marijuana.  Measure 80 is the latest attempt to legalize marijuana.

Hemp was first mentioned in China in approximately 4000 BC.  Every society that recorded its utilization noted its diverse uses.  Hempen fibers were used for making paper and clothing; oil from the seeds was used for food, beauty products, and making paints; and the seeds for food, medicine, and for its narcotic properties.

From the beginning British colonies in North America were required to plant at least some hemp to send back to England, where it was in great demand.  Well into the 1840s  growing hemp was encouraged by individual state laws and at times hemp was used in place of currency.

Hemp did not  develop the bad reputation it has today until the early 1900s.  The first laws restricting its use in individual states began appearing during prohibition.  The first Federal law mentioning marijuana, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, levied a tax of one dollar on those who were commercially involved with hemp.  Farmers continued to grow hemp (with the encouragement of the Federal government during WWII) until 1957.

The Boggs Act of 1952, and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956, criminalized the use of marijuana and outlined harsh mandatory penalties.  The penalties were repealed in 1970.  In 1972, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.  In 1975, Alaska, California, and Colorado followed suit.  Since then  a total of 27 states have decriminalized the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

In 1986, Oregon Ballot Measure 5 would have legalized growing marijuana for personal use.  Since then there have been several other ballot measures along similar lines.  This year’s version is particularly far reaching.  In addition to legalizing growth of marijuana for personal use by adults, it sets up a system for the licensing of growers and distributors.  It would also set up a system of stores similar to those run by the Oregon Liquor Commission.  Measure 80 would also totally deregulate the growth of hemp for industrial uses (see full text at .

The majority of the arguments are the same as they have been in the past: marijuana use is harmless; it would save the money used to enforce current marijuana law ($61.5 million in law enforcement, corrections, and judicial costs).  Measure 80 would free police to deal with “real” criminals; proponents claim it would generate approximately $140 million a year of which 90% of the proceeds would go into the state general fund, 7% for drug treatment programs, 1% each for drug education in public schools, and two new state commissions to promote hemp biofuel and hemp fiber and food.

The reasons for opposing the legalization of marijuana also remain the same.  First of all, there is a moral consideration about using drugs in general.  Other arguments against marijuana use are that it is a gateway drug that causes increases in crime levels, that legalization would encourage the use of marijuana by teenagers, that there would be an increase in healthcare costs due to people driving or going to work after using marijuana, or users might neglect their children.  The least reasonable argument is that legalization of marijuana would lead to the legalization of all drugs.

Even if people are in favor of marijuana legalization, the question is should they vote for Measure 80?  Measure 80 is a poorly written, rambling document that does not belong as a legal document.  It is thorough in proscribing the details of the system it envisions.  However, it makes unsupported implications that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others influential in the creation of our nation used marijuana as a hallucinogenic.  Quoting Genesis, and saying that since God gave man all living plants the government has no right to restrict its use, is perplexing.

The most troubling of the provisions in Measure 80, is the description of what would be called the Oregon Cannabis Commission.  The first year the Measure would be in affect the governor would appoint the commission.  After that “five commissioners shall be elected at large by growers and processors licensed under ORS 474.035 for a term of one year, and two commissioners shall be appointed by the Governor for a term of two years.”  This would result in growers and processors policing themselves.

In the section describing the distribution of the monies generated by the measure it assigns one percent to the school districts to fund “appropriate” drug education.  This program would teach children their social responsibilities to others, persuade students of refrain from using psychoactive drugs, provide accurate information of the affects drugs might have on their development, and persuade them that if, as an adult, they choose to use drugs they must still fulfill their social responsibilities to others.

If the people of Oregon want to legalize marijuana, Measure 80 is not the way to do it.  Supporters of legalization would need to put forth a more rational document than this measure.  The relationship Americans have with marijuana may be shifting to a more moderate stance, but Measure 80 is not the next step.



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Filed under Government, Marijuana, Politics

Oregon Voters Asked to Approve Private Casinos

The ballot measures in Oregon for the November 2012 election are an interesting mix of topics.  There are measures that deal with taxes, legalization of marijuana, regarding gill net fishing, and two about private casinos.

The two measures dealing with private casinos are Measure 82, which would amend the constitution to allow private casinos within the state and Measure 83, which asks if the site of the former Multnomah Kennel Club should be used as space for a private casino.  It should be noted that Measure 83, does not include specifics of a plan, it merely asks whether or not this specific location would be a good place for a casino.  Consequently developers would be free to make changes to the proposed casino.  There cannot be much of a discussion about gambling itself, since there is already gambling in the state.  The discussion must therefore focus on the merits versus negative impacts of the proposed casino.

The idea of a nontribal casino presents a number of issues.  The state of Oregon entered into agreements with each of the tribes that currently have a casino.  These tribes use the profits they make from the casinos to provide social services, such as education, health, housing, elder housing, drug and alcohol programs,  as well as other amenities to their communities.  Whether or not a new casino would seriously impact these casinos is a matter of concern

Another issue is now a new casino would impact the Oregon Lottery, which currently funds K-12 education, parks, wildlife, and economic development.  Out of every dollar spent on the Oregon Lottery, 65 cents goes to these programs.  The proposal for a private casino would give 25 cents of every dollar earned to the state.  It is suggested that the revenue generated by lottery outlets near the proposed casino would decline.

Among other concerns about a private casino is that a casino in the Portland metro area would cause an increase in traffic congestion on the eastside.  Some opponents believe that a casino in the metro area would mean an increase in the crime rate.  There are also concerns that a casino in the metro area would lead to an increase in gambling addiction.

Proponents of the casino plan to have more of a resort than simply a casino.  The proposed complex would also include a bowling alley, a movie theater, a water park, a hotel, and restaurants.  The casino itself would include 2,000 slot machines and between 60 and 100 gaming tables.  Proponents anticipate that after construction there will be 2,000 permanent jobs in the complex.  The complex would be built on the site of the old Multnomah Kennel Club (a former dog track) rejuvenating that facility.  The current casinos do not pay taxes; the estimate is that the new casino would generate $100 million a year for the state.

The private casinos are once again before Oregon voters who rejected them as recently as 2008.  It will be interesting to see if private casinos will finally be approved, since Oregon has allowed tribal casinos for a long time.


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Filed under Gambling, Government, Politics

Conservative vs Liberal

On Facebook and other social media sights recently there have been an increasing number of posts and remarks dividing and labeling people negatively.  One example of this is “Some in the media are complaining that Gabby Douglas is “so, so, so into Jesus.”  LIKE if you are tired of liberal attacks on Christians.”  I find these remarks increasingly distressful.

We Americans are dividing us against ourselves.  This is not good for the country.  A growing unease and distrust of our differences from each other now invokes fear and hatred.  Instead of seeing differences as strengths that they are, filling in the spaces between us, we fear them.  If we do not agree with someone on a particular topic, we label that individual and throw him or her in a category without taking the time to find out more about the person.

That said I am a Christian, a liberal, a Baby Boomer, and not in favor of gun control.

How did being mostly liberal or mostly conservative become negative?  Neither word should be threatening.  Liberal used to mean in favor of change or tolerant of differences.  Conservative meant a person was a traditionalist, preferring things to stay the same.  I have no idea what they mean in today’s world.

In truth, I think that most people are not completely one or the other.  I personally have areas in my life where I am very traditional minded.  Ideas and beliefs generally should not be threatening.  Why should we assume that if a person is liberal they want gun control or are anti-Christian?  A conservative might hold a belief with which I disagree.  That does not threaten me (unless of course the belief is something like, “Baby Boomer liberals should be shot”).  It should not change my world.  The fact that I am liberal should not make a conservative feel threatened.  I am not interested in forcing change in general on anyone.

As is probably apparent by now, somehow in my 60+ years of life, I have retained my idealism.  I still hope that somehow we find a way to get along with each other and live together in peace.

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Filed under Politics