Bill in Oregon House to Legalize & Tax Marijuana

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, March 20 2013 at 7:09 PM, Updated: Wed, March 20 2013 at 7:52 PM

It's being brought up again...the issue of legalizing and taxing marijuana.

Money for schools, public safety and other important initiatives, has been hard to come by in the down economy and some legislators in Oregon's House of Representatives have a plan. It's outlined in House Bill 3371.

"There's no question that Oregon is going to legalize in the future," said Alex Rogers, Owner and CEO of Ashland Alternative Health.

The idea? To legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and to tax it $35 per ounce. 40% of the proceeds would go to schools and the rest would be divided up...20% each for the general fund, state police, and services for mental health, alcoholism and drugs. People would be able to keep up to six mature plants and 24-ounces of marijuana at a time.

"It's a refreshing start to opening the conversation not through initiative process but legislative processes which is a relatively new thing when it comes to Oregon politics," said Rogers.

He said legalization in Washington and Colorado has opened the door for discussion in Oregon politics and he said he supports the bill as a step in the right direction.

"Ashland Alternative Health gave money to the lobbyist group that was pushing this bill," said Rogers.

"It's momentum for 2016 [...] Oregon's year to legalize cannabis."

But he said it's slim that it will pass the House and some legislators agree.

Representative Peter Buckley said in a statement: "I believe it would be in the best interest of our state to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. I doubt it will pass in this session, since there is a strong interest in seeing what happens in Colorado and Washington, but I believe it has a good chance of passing on the ballot in 2014."

Both Representatives Dennis Richardson and Sal Esquivel said they still have yet to read the bill, but have reservations about the idea of supporting the state using money from marijuana sales.

If the bill were to get to the Senate, Senator Alan Bates said it would have an uncertain future. However, he said he believes cannabis will be legalized sooner or later.

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on April 2nd.

If the bill fails, then its likely there will be an initiative on the November 2014 ballot.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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