Drug Policy

Oregon House Revenue Committee Chair: Either We Legalize and Tax Marijuana or a Ballot Initiative Does

Democrat wants Democrat-controlled legislature to consider it in the February session


legalize, tax, repeat?

Phil Barnhart, the Democratic chair of the Oregon State Assembly's Revenue Committee, is urging fellow lawmakers to pass a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana before it's legalized by ballot initiative. According to the Oregonian:

 "We have the best shot of actually getting it right as compared to somebody writing an initiative and if we don't do this it's very likely that there will be an initiative on the ballot," Barnhart said…

"The war on drugs has been lost and we need to come up with something that works for us," Barnhart said.

The Oregon legislature will be in session through the month of February, and any bill to legalize marijuana would go through Barnhart's committee in the Assembly. Both chambers of the state legislature are controlled by Democrats.

I put Oregon at the top of my list of states likely to legalize marijuana now that the Justice Department has offered some small measure of clarity on its tolerance for such state laws. In Colorado and Washington, the first states to legalize marijuana, the change in law came via ballot initiative. No state legislature has yet successfully passed marijuana legalization.

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  1. I see, Top Men…

    1. Top. Men. versus High. People.

      1. Bravo. [Cut to old-timey, overclocked clip of people applauding.]

  2. In other words, let’s push out a comprehensive tax-and-regulate scheme to neuter the issue before the prohibition is popularly struck down. If cigarette smuggling is any indication, the black market for pot is in no way compromised by these experiments in “legalization.”

    1. It comes down to price.

      1. It always does.

    2. If cigarette smuggling is any indication

      It’s not. As sarcasmic said, it comes down to price. There’s no indication (yet) that even a heavily regulated system will make pot cost more than it does now.

      With cigarette’s, there’s no black market production. Only tax avoidance.

      1. You doubt the capacity of small-minded Democrats to tax and regulate themselves out of a lucrative venture? The same bunch of mental Lilliputians who blame both tax structuring and outsourcing on greed with no hint of self-awareness?

        1. Well, at least now we get to find out instead of idly speculating.

    3. If cigarette smuggling is any indication, the black market for pot is in no way compromised by these experiments in “legalization.”

      I don’t know that I would go quite that far. Most cigarettes are still sold through legitimate channels. It won’t eliminate the black market, of course, but it will certainly compromise it quite a bit. The black market premium is pretty high for a fully illegal product (which is also not the case with cigarettes), so tax would have to be quite high for legalization to have no effect on the black market. I’d bet that even if prices were the same as for black market stuff, most people would prefer to go buy it in a store with good selection and who are most likely not going to rip you off.

      Not that I think that is the best way for it to be. But even weak, high-tax legalization will make a dent in the black market.

  3. OT, but part of Oregon could be involved if these crazed baggers succeed in seceding…

    Northern Cali County trying to secede from state

    1. But splitting from California would not be easy. Siskiyou County would have to gain the approval of the state legislature and U.S. Congress.

      No idea what Constitutional provisions exist for mediating intrastate secession, but what sense does it make to require California’s blessing before seceeding from California?

      1. I believe it was included in there to protect the power of states by preventing them from losing territory without their consent.

        1. Psh, should’ve just used the FYTW clause.

        2. I fully support an initiative to allow no-fault secession.

          1. Self government is a fundamental human right.

    2. The best way for people to leave california – taking the land with them and leaving the meddlers with less turf.

  4. “Who knows what the morons who elect us will come up with.”

  5. “We can’t let the voters make us irrelevant!”

    1. Look, if those weeds aren’t carefully taxed and regulated, then, apocalypse! Weed crazed zombies roaming the streets, eating the brains of children. Frogs leaving the water, locusts, fire and brimstone!

      1. You forgot TEH CHILDRUN.

      2. Portlandia not renewed!

  6. Oregon is just butthurt that Washington did it first. Their big bro beat them too it and now they want in.

  7. http://www.slate.com/articles/…..cited.html

    Nullification is good for me, but bad for thee.

    1. Even when they’re making a good point, Slate writers are retarded. Is there a chromosomal test to work at Slate?

    2. The states are especially looking like winners now that the Obama administration has announced that as long as they set up a “tightly regulated market” for pot sales, it won’t send DEA agents and prosecutors after the newly emboldened sellers and growers who are setting up shop.

      Of course. As long as they get to keep power, all is well.

    3. I like this correction:

      In the accompanying photograph, a marijuana blunt was incorrectly described as being 28 ounces.

      28 ounce blunts … one can dream

      1. But where are you going to find a cigar that size?

    4. Are liberals hypocrites for supporting state challenges to federal marijuana laws but scorning state challenges to federal gun laws?

      Yes. Oh, and define “liberal”.

      1. Are liberals hypocrites for supporting state challenges to federal marijuana laws but scorning state challenges to federal gun laws?


    5. Instead, they state that Congress can’t regulate any guns that are made and held within the state, because these firearms don’t count as interstate commerce

      Quick primer on what counts as interstate commerce:


    6. From the links below the article:

      Bad Decisions Don’t Make You Poor. Being Poor Makes for Bad Decisions.

      Nope. Sorry, when one talks about ‘poor people’ as a group, this seems right. But when you actually have a person you know who’s running into serious money problems because they’ve got a revenue spending problem and have the sense of a Kangaroo Rat on matters financial… then it’s pretty obvious where the fault lies.

  8. Both chambers of the state legislature are controlled by Democrats.

    And yet, somehow, the measure will be killed by OBSTRUKSHUNIST REPUBLIKKKANS!

    1. Both chambers of the state legislature are controlled by Democrats

      This being Oregon I wonder why it was necessary to even mention this.

      1. The Democrat Governor opposed it the 2012 ballot initiative that was defeated 53.44%-46.56%.

        Party of the free, indeed.

  9. A brief history of the Marijuana legalization movement:

    1975: Legalize it!

    1985: Legalize it!

    1995: Legalize Medical Marijuana!

    2013: Legalize it, tax it, regulate it!

    1. The first two sound better. Why not leave it untaxed and regulated for a while, like we did with the Internet, to foster economic growth is this burgeoning agricultural sector?

      1. You have to sell it to one party or the other. To sell it to the modern progressive, it needs to be taxed and regulated.

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