Oregon recreational pot initiative qualifies for November ballot

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 22, 2014 3:32 PM

(Reuters) - An initiative seeking to legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana in Oregon has qualified for the November ballot, the state said on its website on Tuesday.

Only two U.S. states, Washington and Colorado, currently allow recreational marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. Oregon's proposal will come before voters just two years after they rejected a similar measure.

"This is a moment we've been waiting for, that we've worked months to get to," said Peter Zuckerman, spokesman for the campaign in favor of the Oregon initiative. Since 2012, when voters turned down a similar measure, public support has grown for legalized marijuana in the Pacific Northwest state, he said.

Proponents of the Oregon initiative submitted 88,584 valid signatures from voters in favor of placing it on the ballot, the elections division of the Oregon secretary of state's office said in an update on Tuesday, more than the 87,213 required to qualify, the update said.

"Every signature represents an Oregonian who believes it’s time for a new approach to marijuana," Zuckerman said. "We've been trying the black market approach for 40 years and it's not working."

Kevin Sabet, co-founder of the national anti-marijuana group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, did not immediately comment on the initiative on Tuesday. But he has said the proposal is being propped up by big money.

Voters in Alaska also will decide on a marijuana initiative in November, and a similar measure is being vetted by election officials in Washington, D.C.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)