Oh Oregon, My Oregon! Marijuana moves north

The Oregon Pioneer (on top of the State Capital building). My kind of guy.

Oregon voters! Where were you?  Gone the pioneer spirit?  Gone the 1970’s sheen from being the first to charge a deposit on bottles and cans? Washington State beat us to the punch and legalized marijuana.

Image source: reason.com

We take the lead on this kind of thing.  Remember?

  • First to institute gas taxes to pay for roads,
  • First to declare all beaches in the state open to the public,
  • First to require land use planning by cities.
  • We pioneered the Oregon Health Plan to cover uninsured people,
  • We were the first to legalize physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill,
  • First to make elections vote-by-mail,
  • First to make cold medicines (aka methamphetamine ingredients) prescription drugs.

Marijuana? Pah. We’ve always been out front in the battle to empty jails of tokers. We were first to decriminalize it, and second (after California) to legalize medical marijuana. Despite handwringing and predictions of doom, the world did not end. We’re royalty when it comes to states that pass scary, don’t-you-dare legislation. Or at least we were …

How could we let Washington (and Colorado!) take away the scepter.

Brush off the Oregon State Song, to remind us what kind of stock we’re made of:

Oregon, My Oregon

Land of the Empire Builders, Land of the Golden West;
Conquered and held by free men, Fairest and the best.
On-ward and upward ever, Forward and on, and on;
Hail to thee, Land of the Heroes, My Oregon.

Land of the rose and sunshine, Land of the summer’s breeze;
Laden with health and vigor, Fresh from the western seas.
Blest by the blood of martyrs, Land of the setting sun;
Hail to thee, Land of Promise, My Oregon.

If that didn’t rouse the blood, here’s an inspiring rendition:


Never mind the part about ‘land of sunshine.’  We don’t need sunshine to be brave.  Put on galoshes and macintosh, and head down to the jail the next time a batch of violent criminals is let loose because the county has run out of money.

Mugshot of Christopher Weaver who robbed a bank 55 minutes after being released from jail. No way he had time to smoke pot first. Image source: HLN

You can’t make something illegal that grows like a weed.  It’s the biggest industry in the state. Get the smokers back to their bongs and out from behind bars so there is room for rapists, robbers and murderers.

I’m not saying marijuana is benign.  It’s not.  It’s a drug, like alcohol and nicotine.  I’m not saying I’m a marijuana fan, either, but the state has better things to do than chase after potheads and people with cancer, and we Oregonians have a reputation to uphold.

Kind of pretty. Might make a nice ground cover.


  • Julia – Unfortunately, my career elected to leave me in Oregon for a short 18 moths, but I fell in love with the state and didn’t mind the rain. I used to say, ‘what rain.’ I just don’t get it when voters can’t understand the advantages to legalizing marijuana. Every governmental body is broke. one oz of marijuana is nothing compared to what we allow across the border every day. My state put legalizing medical marijuana use on our ballet this time but we have too many conservatives for it to pass.


  • If at first they don’t succeed, fry, fry a hen. Maybe next time? When the libertarians put their heads together with the conservatives and point out that they all might WANT liberals stoned more often? Thanks for the visit Sheri.


  • I have to admit that when I saw that result come in after the election, I was surprised, since I’m aware that Oregon has been a very progressive, forward thinking state for a while now, and your list of Oregonian state accomplishments confirms it. So what happened with the Cannabis?

    I just had a polite disagreement with my uncle about this very issue earlier today. I haven’t smoked pot since 1980, but my position of “Legalize It!” has never changed. But as I’m sure you know, even in states that have decriminalized or repealed state Marijuana laws, the Feds can still swoop in and bust people for it, and Federal laws for prison terms are just as severe for pot as they are for meth and heroin.

    And then compare the effects of Marijuana abuse to the ravages of alcohol abuse, and the issue gets even more illogical and hypocritical.I really think that the prime cause for resistance to decriminalization and legalization of Marijuana is that the right wing still sees it as a symbol for everything they have hated and still hate about the left, as well as the racial minorities associated with it.

    What should be a health and social well being issue is really a political issue that has turned personal, and is driven by irrational animosities going back to the 1960s, the Vietnam war and Nixon, and even long before that, when Marijuana was seen as part of African American culture, and banned because of racism in the 1930s.


    • The bill on the Oregon ballot was the most liberal of the legalization bills, which might have turned some people off. Also, a lot of money was poured into the WA and CO campaigns, much from it from out of state. Guess they figured Oregon was in the bag.

      I suspect you’re right about the multiple causes for resisting legalization: hippie hangover effect, especially for older (ahem) folks who associate marijuana with Vietnam protests. There are also legitimate concerns about marijuana’s deleterious effects. Some people have long-lasting, serious adverse reactions. Still marijuana is here to stay, and heavy handed law enforcement has only created marijuana vigilantes in the national forests. Now WA and CO at least, will try the (also expensive), drug treatment route, in a new post-prohibition era.


      • Julia, I replied to your reply earlier, and now I suspect that my reply got sent to spam purgatory since it’s not here. No big deal, but please let me out if you find me in there. Thanks! 🙂


      • In the immortal words of Alfred E. Newman, “What, me worry?”. Used to have a very cool dayglo psychedelic poster of Alfred E. expressing that sentiment.

        Anyway, I said that Oregon bill being most liberal could have been a factor, and in politics people (in this case the donors) should never take any campaign for granted as a sure victory, since many political campaigns that did, have lost.

        There should be legit concerns over deleterious effects, but many drugs that are harmless when used in moderation, will have deleterious effects when excessively and habitually abused, with alcohol the prime example. And like you said, marijuana is here to stay and the marijuana prohibition has been just as much a failure as prohibition of alcohol was in the 1920s. In both prohibitions, the biggest and unintended result was then and is now again, that prohibition helps the worst of organized criminals to get rich from illegal trade.

        Personally, I think the heavy handed law enforcement is illogical and far more needlessly harmful than marijuana, when it imprisons many people who are peaceful, law abiding in all other circumstances, and harmless. Most of all, when it’s the Feds busting people in the states that have voted for and passed decriminalization and legalization laws for marijuana.

        The justice dept should pull it’s ass out of it’s head, and see the world instead, so they can concentrate on the truly dangerous drugs like meth, cocaine, and the recent flood of very inexpensive but potent heroin being marketed to high school and college kids.


  • The Dutch seem to do it right. They allow pot smoking in a few places, mostly in downtown Amsterdam and a few other cities in coffee shops. Good for tourism. Elsewhere pot smoking is against the law and is strictly regulated. I’ve heard Holland has fewer pot smokers than most European countries as a result among young people.

    I took my two daughters to Amsterdam and let them take a look at the pot heads, sitting quietly with dazed looks in their eyes. I think it put them off of the stuff.

    Perhaps Oregon could do the same. Open a few highly regulated shops in downtown Eugene and Portland. Smokers caught smoking pot in public could be fined heavily.


  • That’s almost how it is in Oregon now with medical marijuana. Interesting idea when you think about it, treating recreational drugs as medicine, kind of like morphine, a modern day, legal form of opium, used for people who don’t feel good. Habitual marijuana users are also probably self-medicating for something. Might as well acknowledge that, rather than pretend they use it because they are evil law breakers.

    Funny about you and your girls. Wonder if some of Amsterdam’s tourist dollars will get siphoned off to Seattle and Denver?


  • First of all, I LOVE the gamma ray effect. Next, if you don’t know the history of the hemp plant you simple MUST visit Wikipedia article,


    Finally, if you are interested in what comes next you can watch this amazing documentary on the YouTube.

    “c’mon people now, smile on your brother
    try to love one another, right now”

    – Get Together, by Jesse Colin Young


  • Oops, I missed a line from that quintessential sixties song (i am quoting form memory)

    “c’mon people now, smile on your brother
    everybody get together
    try to love one another, right now”

    – Get Together, by Jesse Colin Young


  • One more thing (don’t you wish this blog offered comment editing?). If your research does convince you of the amazing healing potential of CDB, you should know that THC-free Hemp Hearts (hulled seeds of the hemp plant) are legal and available nationwide (Costco is one place). It’s the #1 smoothie booster on my list: In addition to CBD, and Omega 3-6-9, 1/4 cup = 10 grams protein! Julie and I did some experimentation with Hemp Hearts a couple years back, and recently I followed up because of a mystery illness that turned out to be recurring low level salmonella poisoning from TJs organic Valencia peanut butter. Healing smoothie: 30-50 drops Echinacea/Goldenseal extract + 1 cup dark red cherries + 1 cup pure pomegranate juice + 1/4 cup hemp hearts.


    • Thank you Dan for your unedited comments. Like the video! I’ve seen other “hemp is the answer to everything” videos, but this one is the best.


  • I’ve gotta weigh in here. My credentials: native Oregonian, helped campaign for the original bottle bill and decriminalization of marijuana; learned “Oregon, My Oregon” in third grade.

    Generally speaking, I believe that drugs should be legalized. And then taxed.

    But the Oregon marijuana “legalization” ballot measure was a disaster in the making. It was the ballot measure I voted against, not the issue. Among many serious problems with this hastily written measure was the provision that eventually the marijuana growers themselves would regulate it. (Hello? We don’t let pharmacists regulate drugs.) It had no provisions, on the other hand, for regulating driving while impaired nor generating income for the state from the growing and sale of marijuana.

    The City Club of Eugene held a debate on the measure (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcbuCsyoW_U), and in it, Rob Bovett’s opposition speech articulates well, I think, why Colorado and Washington’s measures were sound but Oregon’s needed to be defeated.


  • It was a pretty bad bill. There is no reason, however, why someone in the state couldn’t have written a decent, passable, bill, especially since there was so much momentum going on just north of us. We do have a little experience in this department. I respect your reasons for voting against. I voted for, with a strong faith that the flaws would be hastily repaired.

    Oh well. Now CO and WA can stumble along and suffer the growing pains that new legalization will bring, and we can slide in with the rest of the slackers. Thanks for the visit!


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