Jeff Merkley First U.S. Senator to Support Legalizing Marijuana
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United States Sen. Jeff Merkley plans to vote “yes” on an upcoming ballot measure to legalize marijuana in his home state of Oregon.
Ballot Measure 91 would give Oregon residents the go-ahead on recreational marijuana use, and would give the state the authority to tax and regulate the drug’s use. While the legalization of marijuana remains a controversial talking point, Merkley has expressed his support of it.
“I think folks on both sides of the argument make a good case," Merkley said. "And there is concern about a series of new products, and we don’t have a real track record from Colorado and Washington. But I feel on balance that we spend a lot of money on our criminal justice system in the wrong places and I lean in favor of this ballot measure.”
Others like Washington’s chief marijuana consultant Mark Kleiman are also in favor of Ballot Measure 91. Kleiman recognizes the bill's imperfections, but believes its implementation will reduce illicit marijuana use in Oregon.
“The basic fact about a legal cannabis market is that the product will be remarkably cheap to grow,” Kleiman said. “Once competition and industrial-style production have taken effect, a legal joint would cost about what a tea-bag costs, rather than the illegal or medical-dispensary price, which is 100 times as high.”
If Merkley does vote for Ballot Measure 91, he will become the first U.S. Senator to back the legalization of marijuana.