There's no shortage of stoners in Oregon, but for a number of different reasons, there's a huge shortage of funding in its perpetual campaign to legalize weed. Since this is an election year, it should've been Oregon's big chance to become the first state to completely legalize marijuana. With only a month to go, though, the campaign to rally voters behind the measure, known as the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, which is already on the ballot, is in utter disarray. Their measure isn't polling well, the locals are upset and they only have $1,800 in the bank. That's pretty pitiful compared to Colorado which has raised close to a million bucks for a similar measure there. Nearby Washington State has raised $4 million.
Paul Stanford is the guy in charge. As the chief petitioner behind the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, it's his job to mobilize fellow marijuana activists around the measure and raise the money that it takes to get things done. Stanford raised the initial $350,000 it took for a signature-gathering effort to get the measure on the ballot in July, but his efforts seem to have stalled after a series of reports exposed some of his financial troubles in the 1990s. Then he got sued for $38,000, which more or less wiped out the money he raised since then. In swooped another set of activists who set up their own political action committee to make a mad dash for the finish line. They raised a few thousand but then spent most of it, giving them only $1,800 for the final push.
It didn't have to be like this. Historically, Oregon's been a leader in progressive marijuana legislation. They were the first state to decriminalize pot in small quantities way back in 1973 and were also one of the first to allow medical marijuana in 1998. Today, it boasts one of the largest populations of pot smokers and also leads the nation in growing. This is part of the reason why many think it's a good idea to legalize it completely, so that the state can catch an estimated $140 million dollars a year in tax dollars from regulating the market and save $61.5 million in law enforcement.
But alas, the locals seem to have lost hope once again. Most experts agree that Colorado and Washington have a much better shot at legalization. Nevertheless, we're sure Oregon's stoners will find a way to get their weed. They always have.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.