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Recriminalization of Marijuana passes Oregon Senate on Friday the 13th

by D. Paul Stanford
Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp
Hemp News

Salem, Oregon - At 8:30 PM on the evening of Friday the 13th of June, 1997, the Senate of Oregon passed House Bill 3643 to recriminalize possession of under an ounce of marijuana. The vote was 20 to 9 in the Senate, with one person absent. On April 29th, the Oregon House of Representatives passed the bill by 43-17. Just this morning, June 13th at 9 AM, HB 3643 full Joint Ways and Means committee passed the bill out to the Senate by 13-1. Last Tuesday, June 10th, the bill passed the Joint Ways and Means subcommittee on Public Safety and Regulation by 5-3. The presence and active lobbying by law enforcement agencies was intense in every single committee hearing and subsequent work sessions on HB 3643. This bill was created and passed by the near exclusive fiat of law enforcement agencies. The hearings in the House and Senate judiciary committees were chaired by a past and a present police office, and the past police officer's husband is a chief of police currently. Oregon is receiving the full fury of law enforcement' backlash against the passage of the medical marijuana initiatives in California and Arizona last fall. 

Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973, and 9 other states followed during the rest of 1970's. In 1990, Alaska became the only state to date to rescind the decriminalization of marijuana, when a federally orchestrated state initiative passed by 54 percent and overturned their state's Supreme Court legalization of private possession and cultivation of marijuana, from a 1975 case, Ravin vs. State of Alaska. The largest paper in the state, The Portland Oregonian, had falsely said in an editorial in favor of the bill to recriminalize marijuana in April that several states had recriminalized marijuana recently. Almost all the data used by the forces to recriminalize marijuana was either lies or in error, and offered by law enforcement agencies.

Several senators spoke in opposition to the bill, citing fiscal constraints and incorrect cost assumptions in the legislative fiscal impact statement.

Senator Bill Dwyer of Springfield gave the most fiery speech in opposition to the bill to recriminalize marijuana. He said, "The state of Oregon is taking another step down the path toward a police state with this bill to recriminalize marijuana."

Dwyer directed much of his speech to Larry Campbell in the gallery. Campbell was speaker of the House of representatives during the two previous legislative session. Campbell and his two sons were hired by the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, and they lobbied heavily to pass HB 3643, along with other law enforcement groups. In the Senate Crime and Corrections committee, the former speaker's son, Larry Campbell Jr. testified that the bill to recriminalize marijuana possession is the top priority of law enforcement groups. In the Joint Ways and means subcommittee on Tuesday, June 10th, former Speaker Larry Campbell Sr. testified that this is the top priority of law enforcement. When Rep. Bryan Johnston questioned Campbell Sr. as to what was law enforcement's second priority, he refused to say. 

This office complained to the President of the Senate, Brady Adams'(Republican) office this evening that rushing the bill from committee one morning to a floor vote that very same day, in Friday night's hastily called session, with no public announcement of the full Senate vote on this unpopular bill, which has little public support, was profoundly undemocratic. Just 3 weeks prior, the Willamette Week, in a cover article entitled "The Moral Minority," quoted the highly regarded pollster, Adam Davis, of Davis and Hibbits, saying, "The recriminalization of marijuana is not on the radar screen. It's not even on the table the radar screen is sitting on. It's not even in the same room." This office had also received several calls today from senators and others looking for financial data on HB 3643, which we faxed to them.

The bill was amended in subcommittee to include a minor appropriation, less than the minimum projected costs. The legislative fiscal staffer who wrote the fiscal impact statement testified in the subcommittee on June 10th that this impact statement was uncertain, incomplete and in error in some calculations. However, due to this subcommittee amendment, after the bill was passed by the House, the bill must come to the floor of the House again for concurrence. If it is not re-approved by the House, then it would go to a conference committee for further proceedings.

The session should end within the next two weeks. If the bill is approved in the same form by both branches of the state legislature, then the only thing that can stop the recriminalization of possession of under an ounce of marijuana in Oregon is a veto by the Governor. Any move to vote to override such a veto would be close, however, unlikely given the time constraints. It may also be possible to kill any possible move to override a veto on HB 3643.

We are organizing on several levels to try to stop this bill before it becomes law. More on this as it develops. Your help is needed.

OREGON READERS: We must redouble our efforts. Please contact your House Rep. and tell them that the amount appropriated by the Ways and Means subcommittee, $600,000.00, is much too little to cover the full fiscal impact of HB 3643. Tell them that in 1991 the fiscal impact estimate of this same bill was $2.6 million and ask them to investigate how two million dollars has been shaved off the expenses in six years. Urge them to seek to amend the bill to include the full costs and send it to the conference committee.

If you are an Oregon resident we urge you to call your Representative in the House and ask them to vote against concurrence with the Ways and Means subcommittee amended version of HB 3643.

Also, contact the Governor and urge him to veto this bill. Please e-mail me if you would like direct contact information for your legislators.

A toll free telephone number to leave
a voice mail message for a legislator: 1-800-332-2313

Governor's office: (503) 378-3111

Please help as best you can. Thank you.


            Please support the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA)!
OCTA would regulate cannabis sales in Oregon's state package stores, allow
doctors to prescribe cannabis and allow farmers to grow hemp for industrial
production of thousands of products, from cloth and paper to food and energy.

        OCTA will raise hundreds of millions of dollars in state revenue.
      OCTA is a initiative petition, sponsored by our political committee,
          "Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp."
                CRRH ; P.O. Box 86741 ; Portland, OR 97286       
          (503) 235-4606                    http://www.crrh.org

Something to do today.

Call the gov and tell him he is not alone

contact the Governor and urge him to veto this bill.
A toll free telephone number to leave
a voice mail message for a legislator: 1-800-332-2313

Governor's office: (503) 378-3111

Aloha, He'Ping
Om, Shalom, Salaam.
Peace Be, Amen.
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