Washington and Colorado last year legalized the possession of up to an ounce of pot by adults 21 and over, with voters deciding to set up systems of state-licensed growers, processors and sellers. In August, the Department of Justice said federal authorities wouldn’t pre-empt state law as long as the states developed a sound regulatory structure.
There hasn’t been any public polling on the Portland ballot question, but marijuana-legalization supporters in the liberal city are confident it will pass.
Peter Johnson, a 28-year-old artist, is among those who favor the initiative. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing, as long as people use it in moderation, just like anything.”
But George South, 59, thinks legalization would send a message to children that it’s OK to do drugs.
Marijuana “affects your brain and slows your brain down,” he said. “It’s a drug that shouldn’t be legalized.”
Twenty states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical use, and it’s time to do the same for recreational use, said Mason Tvert, national communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project.
His group has identified 10 states where it intends to support legalization efforts in the next few years. A signature-collecting drive is now underway in Alaska to force a vote in 2014, with Arizona, California, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont targeted for legalization in 2016 and 2017.
“I think more people than ever before recognize the fact that marijuana is actually less harmful than alcohol, and they’re questioning their beliefs about why it should be illegal,” he said. “I think there are a lot of younger people, who, like with marriage equality, are simply growing up with a different mindset with this type of social issue.
“But I also think there a lot of people in their 40s and 50s who have come to recognize that what they’ve been told about marijuana their whole lives simply isn’t true,” Tvert said.