A bill that would ask Oregon voters if they want to legalize marijuana while leaving the regulatory details up to lawmakers cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday. Senate Bill 1556 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 3-2 party-line vote, with Republicans Betsy Close of Albany and Jeff Kruse of Roseburg opposed, and was sent to the Senate Rules Committee.
Thursday was the deadline for moving bills out of committee, but the deadline doesn’t apply to the rules committee.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, has argued that it makes more sense for legislators to work out the details of how to regulate the production and sale of marijuana in the state instead of leaving it up to advocates of the drug who are working on their own legalization initiatives for the November general election ballot.
Before passing the measure, it was amended to lower the amount of marijuana that 21-and-over adults would be allowed to legally possess in private to six ounces of marijuana and three plants. The original bill allowed up to eight ounces and four plants.
Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ore., who is co-sponsoring the bill with Prozanski, said he thought the measure had a 50-50 chance of passing the Legislature. He said several legislators “don’t want to become attached to anything having to do with marijuana.”
Prozanski and Buckley argue that legislators are only asking voters if they want to legalize marijuana, not taking a position themselves on the issue.
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