EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon could be the next state to legalize marijuana.
The House Judiciary Committee will soon hold a public hearing on a bill to legalize the drug in Oregon.
Oregon lawmakers are looking at regulating and taxing the sale of marijuana to raise money for education and other government services.
Cheryl Smith, Executive Director at the Compassion Center, a Eugene medicinal marijuana clinic, says there are plenty of benefits that come from marijuana use.
“It can help them with nausea, with pain,” Smith said.
She acknowledges that legalizing pot could make her clinic obsolete and put it out of business, but she still likes the effect that legalizing marijuana could have on the economy.
“Bring some money in to the state, when we’re hurting for money,” Smith said.
That’s one reason marijuana advocates are pushing for the passage of House Bill 3371, which would tax marijuana at $35 an ounce.
Those funds would go toward education, police, as well as mental health and alcohol and drug prevention. But law enforcement finds the idea of more marijuana use as a potential hazard.
“If it’s legalized, what would be the penalties of giving juvenile’s marijuana?” said John Umenhofer, Springfield Police Department.
Police say they’re primarily concerned with marijuana ending up in the hands of teens. They say marijuana is especially harmful for minors, and making it legal could lead to more younger people abusing it. Even marijuana experts agree that weed is dangerous for children.
“I think there would have to be some change in the education and some really targeted education because kids shouldn’t use it,” Smith said.
Police are also concerned with the problem of second-hand smoke and inadvertently exposing people to marijuana.
“This is a shared drug, potentially, just like just like cigarette smoke was,” Umenhofer.
Police have their concerns but say their ultimate duty is to enforce the law, even if that law includes legalizing marijuana.
Workers at the medical marijuana clinic KEZI 9 News spoke to agree that smoking marijuana can be harmful, and they tell their patients to use other methods of consumption.