High time for legal pot? Oregonians to vote

Bend residents react as debate makes Nov. ballot

Oregon vote: Legal pot or not?

BEND, Ore. - At The Medication Station in Bend, Ryan Garcia has been selling cannabis to Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patients for about a year, but he's hoping to soon get the green light on a new market.

"Definitely would be a benefit to make that transition to an adult-use or recreation," Garcia said Thursday.

Oregonians will make that decision come November, when they vote on a controversial measure to legalize the sale and consumption recreational marijuana.

"If it's legalized, it does become a taxable commodity, instead of a black market, which creates an issue in and of itself, because it's perpetuating a criminal market," one Oregon man said Thursday of his support for the initiative.

Others said the plant is a gateway drug best left illegal.

"Children would be more exposed to it, because their parents would be doing it," a Bend woman said. "We have to have rules to live by -- otherwise we'll go off the deep end."

It's a debate that can only be decided at the ballot box. But what exactly will you be voting on?

Experts around the state contend the measure is similar in many ways to the marijuana law recently implemented in Washington state.

Adults 21 and older will be able to purchase the drug and possess up to one ounce in public and no more than eight ounces total. Growers, distributors and retailers will have to be licensed, and consuming marijuana in public would remain illegal.

One of the main differences in the law is how marijuana would be taxed in Oregon. The products are expected to be cheaper than in Washington. Proposed taxes ranged from $5 to $35 per item depending on the type of marijuana.

An economic study financed by the measure's author, New Approach Oregon,  found nearly $40 million would pour into state coffers in the first year of sales. The money would be split among schools public safety and programs from drug treatment and prevention.

As part of the measure, there wouldn't be any changes to the Oregon Medical Marijuana program under the Oregon Health Authority.

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