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Marijuana advocates submit 145,000 signatures

Measure would direct regulation by liquor control panel.


Advocates have submitted more than 145,000 signatures for a ballot measure to regulate and tax marijuana for recreational use in Oregon.

If it qualifies for a statewide vote Nov. 4 — 87,213 valid signatures are required — Oregon would join Colorado and Washington in legalizing the drug for recreational use.

“Treating marijuana use as a crime has failed, and it’s time for a new approach,” said Peter Zuckerman, spokesman for New Approach Oregon, the political committee promoting the measure.

“Our measure regulates marijuana in a manner substantial to how beer and wine are regulated.”

Like the measures passed in the other states in 2012, Oregon’s initiative would designate the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to work out details.

It is likely to be the only marijuana-related measure on the ballot if it qualifies. The sponsor of a rival pair of measures said last week his campaign was unlikely to qualify, having gathered about 50,000 signatures for each. One was a constitutional amendment, which requires 116,284 signatures, that would have removed all criminal penalties except those related to children and public safety. The other would have set up a new regulatory commission.

Zuckerman said the measure would curtail the estimated 12,000 marijuana-related arrests and citations annually in Oregon.

“Our current approach to marijuana has fallen short and diverted police from more important issues,” he said.

Advocates submitted the signatures in Salem after an event in front of the Multnomah County Courthouse in Portland to make their point about police priorities.

Oregon was the first state, through legislative action in 1973, to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. The maximum fine is $1,000, though many possession cases are not prosecuted.

Voters rejected a legislative attempt to recriminalize possession in 1998, when they also authorized medicinal use of marijuana.

But voters rejected a 2010 measure to license dispensaries for medical marijuana — although lawmakers passed a different version in 2013 — and a 2012 measure to allow personal cultivation and state licensing for commercial sales.

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