Organized Opposition Mounts Against Recreational Weed Campaign

So far there's been no organized opposition to Measure 91, the marijuana legalization measure on the November ballot.

That's about to change.

Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis says the Oregon District Attorneys Association will decide this week how much money to invest in a campaign to fight recreational marijuana legalization in Oregon. Marquis expects some business and medical interests to fight the measure as well.

The Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, according to its lobbyist, Darrell Fuller, is also working to organize an opposition that can defeat the well-funded measure.

"We're looking at gathering enough people together to convince people that legalizing marijuana is not in the state's best interest," Fuller says. "It's a dangerous drug that's bad for growing kids."

Neither Washington nor Colorado, which legalized marijuana in 2012, saw much in the way of legalized opposition, says Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Marquis acknowledges proponents have a better organized, better funded effort but he thinks opponents have strong arguments to make. 

"They have a good shot," Marquis says. "But I don't think it's a done deal."

He may be right: A KATU poll released Aug. 6 shows 51 percent of likely voters say they will vote for the measure, compared to 42 percent against.

That suggests the campaign is vulnerable, Fuller says, even though it will outspend any opposition.

But some surprising support has emerged in support of passing Measure 91.

"It's inevitable marijuana is coming to Oregon in one form or another, and I hope it comes in the form of a good bill like this one,” Retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice William Riggs last week said last week in a video promoted by New Approach Oregon, the sponsors of Measure 91. "If we’re going to have marijuana in Oregon, this is the way to do it.” 

And the Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens, a coalition of senior groups that endorses political candidates, for the first time endorsed a marijuana measure.

"This measure is exceptionally well written. it's an issue whose time has come," says OSCRC president Steve Weiss. "Even The Oregonian, as right-wing as it is these days, calls this initiative the one we should pay attention to."

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