Friday, August 24, 2012

Examining the 2012 Campaigns to Legalize Cannabis: Oregon. By Patrick Wood

The following blog post was written by Patrick Wood, a student at SUNY-Geneseo in New York. Patrick was an intern for the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation during the summer of 2012, and we thank him for his excellent work on this and other projects throughout the summer. This is the second of a three part series written by Patrick. Click here to view an analysis of Colorado's Initiative.

The official campaigns of the initiatives to legalize cannabis in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington all make big claims about what the initiatives will do for their states if they are passed. How do these claims stand up to the facts?

Oregon Measure 80’s campaign website says the initiative will do five things:
  • Protect Oregon’s children by ensuring that, like liquor, cannabis is only sold to adults.
  • Regulate the growth and sale of cannabis, dramatically shrinking the black market.
  • Restore the agricultural hemp industry.  Hemp offers an alternative green fuel source, and its fibers can be used for clothing, food, and more.
  • Generate tax revenue for the state. Eliminate millions of dollars spent on corrections costs.
  • Create jobs both through the cannabis and hemp industries.
Supporting that cannabis will, like liquor, only be sold to adults:

474.125 of Measure 80 reads “Sale or provision to minors, penalties, exception. The sale of cannabis to minors shall be a Class B felony, and gratuitous provision of cannabis to minors shall be a Class A misdemeanor, except when to a minor over 18 years of age under the same conditions provided by ORS 471.030(1) for alcohol.”

Supporting that legalization and regulation will shrink the black market:
“Regulating and taxing marijuana instead of prohibiting it--by undercutting the black market--can be expected to reduce crime and corruption, as occurred following the repeal of Prohibition.” - Jefferson  Leave Marijuana Regulation to the States” in Looking in the Cultural Mirror, featured in Psychology Today

Supporting the usefulness of hemp:  

“Because of their strength and durability, hemp fibers have been used for production of cordage and coarse textiles for centuries. In addition, hemp can provide raw material for pulp and paper manufacture, composite wood products such as particleboard and insulation board, and industrial products including geotextiles and nonwoven industrial fabrics.” Daryl T. Ehrensing Department of Crop and Soil Science, Oregon State University in Feasibility of Industrial Hemp Production in the United States Pacific Northwest

“Most people know that industrial hemp has been a source of rope, cloth and paper since ancient times, but few recognize its incredible potential today. It represents an ecologically stable, renewable source of raw materials to make such diverse products as automobile fuel, plastics, building materials and food for animals and people.” - Jim Bauder and Linzy Carlson MSU Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in Hemp: Many possibilities as an alternative crop

Supporting that legalization would generate tax revenue and eliminate millions of dollars spent on corrections costs:

“Approximately $8.7 billion of [savings] would result from legalization of marijuana” nationwide (annually). - Miron & Waldock in The budgetary impact of drug prohibition

“…assuming legal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco. Approximately $8.7 billion of this revenue would result from legalization of marijuana” - Miron & Waldock 

^ That’s 8.7 billion in savings AND another 8.7 billion in revenue = 17.4 billion dollars. 

State marijuana tax revenue according to Miron + Waldock according to a population method and in 2008 dollars- 
Colorado: 47.29 million
Oregon: 36.28 million
Washington: 62.70 million

Oregon total police expenditures related to marijuana: $29,706,000
Oregon state-level expenditures related to marijuana prohibition: $61,318,000

For Oregon, this would mean 36.28 million in tax revenue AND another 61.318 million in savings =$97,598,000 every year.

Link to The Budgetary Impact of Drug Prohibition:

From 2003-2005, Oregon produced an average value of $473,972,000 worth of marijuana, making it the state’s largest cash crop. The other major cash crops did not come close to surpassing marijuana (Hay-  $346,751,000, Wheat - $195,018,000).  -Jon Gettman, Ph.D. page 14 of Marijuana Production in the United States


Supporting that Measure 80 will create jobs:

“…taxing and regulating cannabis and hemp will create thousands of local jobs, from agricultural jobs in 
Oregon’s hardest-hit rural counties to manufacturing, engineering and professional services jobs around the 

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