Legal Cannabis in Oregon Will Pave the Way for Legal Cannabis Everywhere
It has been less than three weeks since Oregonians voted to legalize adult use of recreational cannabis, but we can already see the effects of this historic vote, within our state and beyond our borders. As the OLCC gears up to implement the new law, we have seen regulators and legislators begin to engage. Prosecutors throughout the state are dropping cases involving conduct that will be legal under Measure 91. Many jurisdictions will no longer bring new cases involving possession of marijuana.
In my last post, about the mmjbusinessdaily national conference, I mentioned the optimism that pervaded the event. That stemmed in large part from the recent electoral victories, particularly in Oregon. It’s one thing for two states to legalize recreational cannabis during a presidential election where a Democrat prevailed. For two more states to legalize in an off year, after seeing the results of legalization in Washington and Colorado, is something entirely different. The nation was watching to see whether the momentum would continue. Had we lost, many would have said that 2012 was just a fluke. Our opposition would have been emboldened by our loss, and advocates in many states would have thought a bit harder about the path forward.
We did not lose! In fact, we prevailed by a larger margin than anyone, including the measure’s most diehard supporters, thought possible. This opens the door to legalization votes in a number of states in 2016, including California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Arizona, Missouri and others. Our victory in Oregon makes the road easier in all of these places. It shows that people support legalization and that we can win in an off year. This makes it more likely to raise money for these efforts and, for better or for worse, that is a huge part of winning an election.
Our implementation of this new system is incredibly important. We get to pick and choose the best parts of the Colorado and Washington systems and to come up with our own solutions to vexing problems. This, combined with our well-drafted law (called the new gold standard by many), gives us the chance to demonstrate to everyone pondering legalization how smoothly such a system can run. We can be the example that proves to the rest of the world that legalization is without a doubt the better choice. This will pave the way for electoral victories in 2016 and beyond, and the ultimately for the end of federal prohibition. Cogratulations Oregonians! Now it’s time to get to work.