Oregon voters will have a chance to legalize marijuana for anyone over 21 years of age. Last week the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act got enough petition signatures to make the November ballot, and on Thursday, Bend voters for and against the act spoke out.
"It's been unenforceable, frankly, and there's needed to be a regulatory method to deal with it," said Tristen Reisfar from MAMA's, a medical marijuana clinic in Bend. "We believe this measure is a step in the right direction."
Reisfar said he supports Measure 80. The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act would decriminalize, regulate and allow the sale of marijuana at state-licensed stores.
"I guess my biggest fear is that there's going to be a big increase in the number of people who are driving impaired because the substance in legalized," said Allen Gibson, lead counselor at Pfeifer and Associates.
Gibson said he believes it would be difficult to regulate, because the drug stays in a person's body a long period of time.
"There's not such thing as a safe or benign drug," said Gibson. "It doesn't matter what it is. And once again, we get back to the fact that no one educates the public on the specific effects of marijuana."
Bend voters have strong opinions and plan to make them known at the polls.
"I just think alcohol is way worse, so why wouldn't they legalize marijuana?" said one Bend resident.
"I just think it's unhealthy, and I think our kids need to be protected from that kind of stuff," said another Bend resident.
It's estimated that over $140 million a year would be generated for the state's general fund. Some voters believe more would be saved, with less time wasted on marijuana crackdowns.
"Law enforcement has so many bigger priorities than have to sit down and work on people using personal amounts of marijuana in their own home," said Reisfar. "It's really none of government's business what goes on in people's homes, and I think this would be one step to get back to that concept."
A new Gallup poll shows shows a record 50 percent of Americans now say marijuana should be made legal. You can weigh in on our current KTVZ.COM Poll on the right side of our Website's home page..