Portland City Club panel backs marijuana legalization; state Lottery chair dissents

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December 8, 2016
Denver, CO
johnson.JPG Anthony Johnson, front, director of New Approach Oregon, and other supporters of legalizing marijuana carry boxes of petition signatures to state elections offices on June 26. (Chad Garland/Associated Press

City Club of Portland study committee announced Thursday that it is backing the marijuana legalization measure on the November ballot. But one of the committee members, Oregon Lottery Commission Chair Elisa Dozono said the state should move more slowly and carefully on legalizing recreational use of the drug.

The report from the study committee, which the City Club will vote on Wednesday, argues that the initiative establishes a workable framework for regulating legal production, sales and use of marijuana. 

"The legalization of recreational marijuana will pose many challenges in the beginning," the report says, "but over time will be better than the status quo, increasing revenue for state and local government and reducing criminal activity."

Dozono, who also chaired the study committee, raised a number of concerns about how legalization would work in Oregon. She suggested that it would be better to "have the Legislature take more deliberative action in the 2015 session to craft an even better law than the Measure's proponents have managed to put forth."

She also harked back to voter approval of a lottery initiative in 1984 and said:

Longtime Oregonians who recall another citizen initiative that enshrined legalized gambling in both our constitution and statutes via the Lottery would do well to reflect on the unique security concerns of morphing an illegal industry into a legitimate and highly regulated one, and the resulting pressures of balancing state revenue production with social costs.

The marijuana report and eight other election-related issues will be considered at a "Ballot-Palooza" event held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Oregon Public House, 700 NE Dekum St. The event will be open to the public, but only City Club members can vote.

-- Jeff Mapes

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