Legal marijuana faces multiple hurdles in Oregon

Proponents trying to legalize marijuana for the last few decades have become accustomed to road blocks standing in their way. More recently, when the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012 (OCTA) submitted signatures for the early turn-in with the Secretary of State in Oregon and discovered that more than 40% of the signatures were deemed invalid, petitioners hit the streets in force to accomplish the goal of qualifying for the ballot before the July 6 deadline. Ultimately they succeeded and earned a place on the November 2012 ballot in Oregon. Another similar petition in Oregon, a Constitutional Amendment to repeal the laws for cannabis for adults proposed by the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative , fell short of the goal. That initiative is challenging the Oregon Secretary of State over its “arbitrary” disqualifications of signatures that appear to conflict with the election laws, and will be heard by the Circuit Court in Marion County on September 4. If successful in court, the measure will appear on the November ballot alongside the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act. The two measures are complimentary, although unrelated. With the obstacles legal marijuana faces in Oregon, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the effort to qualify the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act for the ballot “broke the bank” so to speak. The Oregonian published an article on Wednesday entitled “Pot legalization supporters failed to pay petition circulators.”

According to the article, two former employees, Brenda Cahill and Terri Garrett, contacted the Oregonian “to complain about how they’ve been treated by the campaign.” They each claim that the campaign owes them a few hundred dollars in back wages. Paul Stanford, chief petitioner of the campaign, admits to the Oregonian that while he is unsure of the exact amount, there could be “a few thousand dollars” in back wages still due to petitioners, possibly more. The campaign has raised $333,052 in contributions, but it has spent $345,580 in qualifying for the ballot according to Orestar which tracks campaign spending and contributions in Oregon. Stanford says, “We can only pay out the money we have in.” Washington and Colorado also have initiatives on the ballot for legalized marijuana in November. A Huffington Post article claims that the Washington effort already raised over $2 million for their campaign to legalize marijuana, and that the Colorado effort raised over $1 million. According to the same article, Oregon has only reported contributions of about $1000. While Washington and Colorado are working to purchase television spots to convince potential voters to support their efforts, the Oregon campaign is struggling to finance paying the petitioners’ back wages before they can even begin to publicize the effort.

Stanford says, “They’re the first priority.” According to the Oregonian, Stanford says raising donations for paying the back wages “has been tough.” Roy Kaufmann, the campaign’s Director of Communications also expressed frustration with fundraising efforts according to an Examiner article written by John Bruce: “We’re hoping to find donors among organizations and companies that would profit from passage of the measure.” Kaufmann further expressed that “right now fundraising is critical.” The campaign has plans to fund billboards and television spots to help sway voters to pass the measure in Oregon this fall. The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), Stanford’s long-time project that puts on a weekly public broadcast to educate about the benefits of cannabis, has been the primary funder for the campaign. CRRH has donated $341,586 in cash contributions and an additional $48,036 in in-kind donations. The next largest donor to the campaign is Willie Nelson, who made news when he endorsed the campaign earlier this year. Nelson has donated $10,600 to OCTA.

via : examiner

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