In 2012, voters narrowly shot down a plan to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Now, state Senator Floyd Prozanski, a Eugene democrat who also serves as the chair of the judiciary committee said the 2012 measure was poorly written and far too broad.
The fact that it nearly passed anyway despite its flaws was, he says, an eye-opening experience.
“The voters were in favor of looking at regulating marijuana through a different lens than the criminal justice system,” Prozanski said.
Prozanski has drafted a measure that, if passed by voters, could lead to the legalization of up to four marijuana plants and eight ounces of finished product in a person’s home. It would also permit the possession and transportation of up to one ounce of pot. Like alcohol, possession would be illegal for those under the age of 21.
Prozanski says most people who use pot are law-abiding citizens who simply prefer marijuana to alcohol.
“They just would like not have to be out on the street corner dealing with people in the underground market,” Prozanski said.
But Dr. Ron Schwerzler, who specializes in the treatment of addiction, says all mood-altering drugs, such as marijuana, have long-term effects.
“To use the drug recreationally, I’d be very much against,” said Dr. Ron Schwerzler, Medical Director at Serenity Lane. “We know it causes memory loss; we know it causes the inability to learn new behavior.”
But just as importantly, Schwerzler wonders about the societal impact of legalization.
“What message are we sending our children that another mood-altering drug is okay? We have enough problems with alcohol,” Schwerzler said.
But Prozanski says attitudes are changing and that the marijuana industry is flourishing whether it’s legal or not. When asked if he used pot himself, Prozanski said no.
“Not at this point. You know, I’ve done it in my past. Who hasn’t?” Prozanski said.
The senator says part of his motivation for the vote is to hurt street dealers and the drug cartels, this after his 21-year-old sister was killed by a member of the cartels when he was in high school.
“The individual that killed her made a decision–a conscious decision–to murder her because of her knowledge of his involvement in the drug cartel,” Prozanski said.
And yes, there is also a revenue motive in play. Although numbers are hard to come by, tax revenues from the sale of pot is likely to be a cozy nine figures.
“I’ve heard anywhere from $100 (million) to $400 million,” Prozanski said.
The legislative session begins Feb. 3 and runs through March 9. The general election is Nov. 4.