One of two marijuana-related initiative petitions has officially qualified for the November 2012 ballot. Measure 80, if approved by voters, would decriminalize the possession and use of marijuana by adults (age 21 and older). It would also amend Oregon law to regulate commercial marijuana cultivation and sale to adults through state-licensed dispensaries. Funds generated from licensing and sale would be directed, in part, to the state general fund and drug education and treatment.

The ACLU has long advocated for the decriminalization of the use, possession, cultivation, manufacture and distribution of drugs, including marijuana. Criminal laws against marijuana impose arbitrary, often harsh, and cruel penalties for private conduct for which no criminal penalty is appropriate. These laws are selectively enforced and, when enforced, often rely on entrapment, illegal searches, or other means that violate civil liberties. They divert scarce law enforcement resources from serious crimes and true public safety threats.

Consistent with this policy, we see Measure 80 as a step in the right direction for Oregon.