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Why Did Legalization Fail?

Pot smokers in Oregon can only look with envy to our northern neighbor and a couple states over to the southeast with longing. Washington and Colorado got their legal weed initiatives through and marijuana advocates in Oregon are left licking their wounds. So why didn’t it pass?

The Huffington Post claims money ruled the issue, with proponents of legalization getting substantially more from private donations and opponents relying on existing anti-drug messages and the built in authority of law enforcement. This explanation sounds good for Washington and Colorado, but doesn’t explain why Oreganians voted against the measure by almost ten percentage points.

Other analysts say: the Oregon measure was poorly written and didn't poll well. It didn't qualify for the ballot until July, severely limiting the time available to sway voters. They also don't care for the man with a blemished record who was pushing Oregon's measure.

So will we see it on the ballot again? It is very likely. Oregon remains the best candidate for the next state to become fully legal. Unless things go badly for Washington and Colorado before a new measure can be proposed. Now that we have two other states to watch, advocates and opponents will pull from those examples.

It remains to be seen how much marijuana use and addiction will go up in Washington and Colorado. And the battle between state and federal law hasn’t been engaged either. It may turn out that the controversy evaporates with legalization or it may explode and become an obvious mistake. In a sense, both legal states will now serve as an experiment. For all the shouting from each side of the issue, no one really knows what happens when you make pot legal.

Paul Sanford, the “prime mover” behind the ballot measure, was optimistic shortly after the election. He was quoted in Counter Punch:
“We came close,” he said. “We won Portland by over 60 percent and they’ve still got about 100,000 Portland votes to count. I think it’ll go above 47 percent when all those votes are counted.” Stanford did not sound downhearted. “Here’s an amazing thing,” he went on. “The day after the election the Oregonian, which had opposed us and called us all kinds of names, ran an editorial arguing that the legislature should now legalize and regulate marijuana!”


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