Two separate cannabis legalization campaigns in Oregon are making headlines this week – for opposite reasons.
New Approach Oregon, which is spearheading a recreational legalization ballot measure, said on Monday it has gathered more than 100,000 signatures. The group has until July 3 to collect 87,213 valid voter signatures in order to quality the measure for the November ballot.
Representatives from the group said they will continue to seek signatures until the July 3 deadline and hope to have a 25% to 30% buffer to account for invalid names.
The news is less positive for Oregon’s Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp, which is gathering signatures for its own legalization measure as well as for a cannabis taxation act . Eight of the group’s 10 petition canvassers are on strike, complaining about late paychecks and other issues.
On Monday, the strikers made an offer to return but were locked out. The group is lagging behind in its signature push for both measures.
Oregon voters rejected ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana in 1986 and 2012.
Marijuana growers in eastern Washington could see their profits dry up due to water restrictions.
In the state’s agricultural region east of the Cascade Mountains, much of the irrigation water is provided by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, which inks local contracts through its district offices.
Since marijuana is still federally illegal, the bureau could be barred from providing services for legal growers in the region. Local districts asked the agency for clarification regarding marijuana water rights in March, however the agency has yet to announce a decision.
“We will work with our water districts once the evaluation is complete,” said Peter Soeth, a reclamation spokesman. Soeth did not give a timeline for the decision.
Currently, Washington has distributed 20 cultivation licenses, and eight of those licenses are for businesses east of the Cascades. If the federal government does not allow these businesses to access federal water, they will have to buy it from local wells, which is more expensive.
The added expense could factor into the overall sticker price of retail cannabis across the state.
At least one cultivator, however, said marijuana is so valuable that it will offset the added costs.
“It’s an inconvenience, not a problem. It’s an expense rather than a real problem,” said Alan Shreiber, who has applied for a cultivation license.
Stop by The Front Tea and Arts weekday mornings and you'll find a typical small-town Colorado coffee shop, showcasing a wide range of teas and coffees plus the work of local artists. But lately on certain evenings, the smell of roasted beans switches over to the smell from vaporized bowls of Colorado ganja. Formerly (as in last week) dubbed The Hive, the coffee shop is really just a gathering spot for cannabis users 21 and up to get together and swap herb and stories. No marijuana is actually bought or sold; that would be illegal. It operates as a bring-your-own-buds spot, although sharing is not only accepted but encouraged. The co-op meets every night except for Thursdays. Most of the time, the evenings involve casual hanging out -- but The Front also holds events like poetry and game nights. The Front is one of several pot-friendly venues popping up around the state, including attorney Rob Corry's Club 64, as well as Studio 64/Club 710 in the Springs. (The latter's name stems from hash oil smokers -- "oil" upside down and backwards). Rob Tillery, whose Blazing Events production company puts on the Club 710 parties, says they've seen a huge turnout over the last two Sundays they've operated. "We had patients come out who said they never drink and never hang out in a social atmosphere like this," he said. "They told me that they don't drink and that they aren't throwing huge house parties anymore, so things like [Club 710]...