After failing to gather enough signatures last year to put a marijuana-legalization question on the state ballot, supporters of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act kicked off a new initiative effort today that would put that question to voters in November 2012.
The initiative must collect 90,000 valid signatures from Oregon voters by July 2012 for there to be a ballot question.
And campaign manager Jennifer Alexander (on the right in the photo) says that can happen because polls show the number of people against legalizing pot is shrinking.
"It's time for people to come out of the closet in support," Alexander said at a news conference with about 25 supporters in a crowded and balmy campaign office in Northeast Portland, smelling of cannabis while surrounded by hemp products and art.
Alexander estimates that legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older would cut annual state law enforcement costs by at least $61.5 million. Longtime Portland cannabis activist Paul Stanford (on the left in this photo) estimates the state could raise more than $140 million in revenue a year from taxing cannabis.
Stanford—who's fighting his own legal troubles against tax charges—says 90 percent of the marijuana tax money would go to the cash-strapped state and the remaining 10 percent split up among drug treatment and rehabilitation, drug education for kids and promotion of hemp bio-fuel, fiber and food.
Last November, California voters rejected a measure to legalize marijuana. Legalization supporters are working to bring back that question in that state next year.