California and Oregon are looking to legalize marijuana for recreational use even as the states of the South forbid it for any reason, showing once again the differences in social and political issues in red and blue states.
Oregon folks have announced they are joining California to seek legislation for the November ballot so people can vote on whether to legalize pot for recreational use. A local cannabis cafe is said to be preparing to gather signatures on Saturday.
California was the first to consider recreational use of marijuana. There are enough signatures presently for a vote in the next election this fall.
What the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act says specifically is it would
"legalize the sale, possession and personal private cultivation of marijuana."
The Act maintains that those who grow and those who sell marijuana would have to have a state license to do so and only sell the drug in cannabis-only stores.
California led the way to passage of medical marijuana laws, with Oregon following suit in 1998. Presently there are 24,000 people who use medical marijuana. The Oregonian has had a number of articles on marijuana bars where people gather to purchase and use pot. Presently an individual can only legally secure cannabis with a medical condition considered debilitating by a doctor.
Organizers will start collecting signatures Saturday.
One of the leaders in the movement to legalize marijuana use in Oregon is Kyndall Mason with the DemocracyResources.com organization. She said in a statement given to the press yesterday, "Oregon has a long history of laws that conflict with federal law, that includes the Death with Dignity Act. The feds have (recently) given states more autonomy, specifically regarding medical marijuana laws."
At a time the Obama administration has tread lightly on the Federal Government's interaction with the states on the matter of marijuana, a number of other states are reported to be interested, in addition to Oregon. These include Washington State, Michigan, Montana and Maine, all considered to be blue states according to political maps.
Do people think Oregon will pass the measure to legalize marijuana. Mason thinks it will and concludes:
"As the years have gone by, a lot of people are kind of fed up with the drug war."
But the drug war continues in the states of Mississippi and Louisiana, said to be firmly on the red side of the political slate. Digital Journal spoke with a local resident, Delores Blalock, who was born and raised in Louisiana about her take on the issue of legalizing marijuana.
Dolores Blalock had this to say, "I don't think Louisiana is ready for it. It wouldn't work here. There are too many people who wouldn't favor it."
"What's the situation in Louisiana regarding smoking pot and what happens if someone is caught doing it, "Blalock was asked.
Her answer was clear and serious as she declared, "They put you in jail. Things here are like they were in the 50's when it comes to that stuff. Little has changed. To legalize marijuana there would have to be another step, and that would take some time. There is too much to change; it would be a stretch. Folks would have to be convinced that marijuana has a medical use. In California where I lived a good bit of my life, people haven't had to be afraid to have marijuana on them for a long time. But in Louisiana, it's different. They'd just put you in jail. No question about it."
"No interest then? "This question brought an immediate, "No. Absolutely not. These people aren't ready, and they wouldn't be for a long time. It would take that other step, and even that would take time."
"Would it make a good crop? What about that angle?"
"Oh, I agree with that. But Louisiana is going in another direction. They still find money in gas and oil. There's a big difference here than in Oregon and California."
Growing or selling marijuana in Louisiana of less than 60 pounds is a felony with penalties that include five to 30 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.