Opinion: The other Octa

POSTED: 01/24/12 1:32 PM

When we read that Prime Minister Wescot-Williams traveled to a ministerial Octa-meeting in Brussels, we wanted to know more about Octa. When we Googled the acronym we fell into something completely different: the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act. This is a citizens’ initiative campaign to regulate marijuana and restore hemp.
Just as ending alcohol prohibition and regulating that market has protected society, the initiators write on their site, regulating marijuana will help wipe out crime. Restoring hemp, made from the seeds and stems of the marijuana plant for fuel, fiber and food, will put Oregon on the cutting edge of exciting new sustainable green industries and create untold multitudes of new jobs.
Wow, we thought, maybe out Prime Minister should have traveled to Oregon to hear more about that initiative. The good people of Oregon want to regulate the legal sale of marijuana to adults though state-licensed stores; allow adults to grow their own marijuana; license farmers to grow the stuff for the state-licensed stores and allow others to grow cannabis hemp for fuel, fiber and food. The legislation would raise $140 million in annual taxes from commercial cannabis sales to adults over 21 years of age, and it would save an estimated $61.5 million a year on law enforcement resources.
The initiators also proposed how to divide the spoils: 90 percent for the state, 7 percent for drug treatment programs and 1 percent for drug education in public schools and for establishing two state commissions charged with promoting hemp biofuel and hemp fiber and food.
The initiative needs 125,000 signatures from registered Oregon-voters. The deadline for the initiative is June 6, so there is still some time to get these signatures together. When this succeeds, the initiative will be placed on the ballot on November 6.
We figure that our parliamentarians won’t be too eager to copy Oregon’s Octa-initiative, even though they have two options at their disposal to put such a measure to the test: initiative legislation and the consultative referendum. The first option requires an ordinary majority in the parliament to pass; the second one would give a fair idea about how such an initiative hangs with the population. The third option is obviously the most likely and that is: nothing will happen.

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