In addition to the Presidential, congressional, state legislative, and mayoral races, my ballot this year included a bunch of voter-sponsored initiative measures. One of the more interesting ones is Measure 80, which would decriminalize marijuana under state law.
To start with, I'm quite sympathetic to the idea of decriminalization of drugs. I would go farther than marijuana and would be open to decriminalizing pretty much everything, although for the protection of society, if not just children, I'd put some limits on how and where you can buy and use the really dangerous stuff.
But that's neither here nor there. Measure 80 speaks only to pot, and it's certainly a plausible position to say that we should start with decriminalizing pot, see how that goes, and then consider harder drugs.
So why did I vote against Measure 80?
- It has an annoying preamble that comes close to "finding" that pot is the greatest thing since sliced bread, although much of this comes from obscuring the difference between hemp and pot ("Yields several times more fiber, for paper and textiles, than any other plant"; "Yields cloth and paper of superior strength and durability without the application of pesticides during cultivation and without producing cancer-causing pollutants during processing"; etc.). Maybe these are true facts, but I'd rather not be enshrining them into the books with my vote.
- It creates a commissi0n to regulate the pot trade, which is probably necessary, but limits the election/selection of those commissioners to pot growers and processors, with the exception of two (out of seven total) to be appointed by the Governor. Can you say "agency capture"?
- It requires the state Attorney General's office to defend Oregonians prosecuted for drug crimes -- which apparently means those in federal court(!). This is a wholly absurd proposal, as it vastly overburdens the AG's office, not to mention, creates the possibility of severe legal conflicts-of-interest. What if a person who must be defended in federal court by the state AG also commits non-drug related offenses?
Overreaching. I would have voted for a more, um, measured approach to decriminalize. Measure 80 asks for the moon, so I voted against it.