On July 1st of 2015, cannabis consumers celebrated across Oregon, with a rather infamous celebration occurring on the Burnside Bridge in downtown Portland. Today, one year later, and legalization is a part of the normal fabric of life in much of Oregon. Jobs have been created, millions of dollars have been generated for the state and hundreds of people have taken advantage of new provisions that have allowed for the expungement of old marijuana offenses.
Unfortunately, more conservative areas of the state have banned marijuana businesses (but that they can’t ban personal use and cultivation) and their have been roll-backs of the medical marijuana system that have hurt sick and disabled patients. However, advocates that helped lead the charge for legalization haven’t given up and will continue to work to improve and protect Oregon’s marijuana laws, as the state helps lead the nation towards ending the failed and harmful Drug War.
Here’s a post by New Approach Oregon, the political action committee responsible for legalized marijuana (directed by our very own Anthony Johnson):
After one year of legalized marijuana, it is clear that Oregon voters got it right.
Millions of dollars have been added to the state’s coffers, thousands of jobs have been created and many lives have been improved.
Oregon can celebrate one year of legal marijuana, knowing that we have better prioritized law enforcement resources and raised revenue for important social services. The state has been an example for the rest of the country to follow as more and more voters and public officials understand that marijuana regulation is a much better policy than prohibition.
Thanks to over 56% of Oregon voters and all of New Approach Oregon’s supporters, we have made history and become national leaders in marijuana law reform. Cannabis commerce has reportedly created more than 2,000 jobs to go along with about $15 million in new tax revenue after just the first few months of taxed sales. Later in the fall, more marijuana products will be available to all adults over the age of 21, likely increasing the tax dollars being collected.
More important than tax dollars are the lives that have been improved due to legalization and its aftermath. We are proud to have helped lead the legislative efforts that reduced marijuana-related criminal penalties even further and allowed for the expungement of past marijuana offenses. More than 500 Oregonians have taken advantage of expunging old marijuana penalties from their records since Measure 91 passed in 2014
Oregon still needs to bring much of the state into the regulated system as too many localities have banned regulated marijuana sales. These bans hurt the statewide system and deny local residents much-needed jobs and tax dollars. Additionally, the state still needs to reduce more marijuana penalties; ensure that low-income patients have safe access to medicine; and allow social consumption locations for adults.
Medical marijuana fees and regulations remain too burdensome for many patients and some local and state regulations are restricting the ability of small business owners to thrive. We will continue working on these issues until Oregon has gotten it right, all across the state.
Clearly, the sky hasn’t fallen as Oregon has benefited from the new jobs and revenue. As the legalization experience continues to be positive, public officials across the state should remove barriers that exist for patients, farmers and businesses and bring more and more people into the regulated system.
There is much more work to be done, but today, Oregon can be proud of being a true trailblazer. Thank you all for helping move Oregon, and our nation, away from failed Drug War policies.