A ballot measure that would permit people 18 and older to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use came under attack Wednesday from George Dunlop, an assistant U.S. secretary of agriculture, and it was also the topic of a debate at Lewis and Clark College.
"We have a problem that is absolutely out of control," Dunlop said at a news conference about Ballot Measure 5 that was held at Cedar Hills Hospital & Mental Health Clinic, 10300 S.W. Eastridge St.
"We're no longer dealing with counterculture people," said Dunlop. He characterized today's marijuana grower as a "vicious criminal element akin to terrorists."
According to Dunlop, federal forestry officials are unequipped to deal with growers who defend their crops with pipe bombs, submachine guns, booby traps and attack dogs.
He said Congress was working on a new package of anti-drug legislation that would make growing marijuana a federal offense and establish enforcement teams permitted to carry arms and make arrests.
Dunlop said cultivation of marijuana on federal lands had grown in the past five years from 1,000 acres to 1 million acres and is tied to organized crime. "When people use marijuana they become part of the criminal chain," he said.
At Lewis and Clark College, John Sajo, executive director of Oregon Marijuana Initiative [sic], and Roger Martin, campaign director of Citizens Against Marijuana Legalization, debated before about 75 people at Templeton Student Center.
"We're not going to stop kids using marijuana by limiting its availability," Sajo said. "We need to stop the drug war and start drug education. We've lied to people about marijuana, and that's probably why we have such a problem with cocaine."
He drew an analogy to declining national cigarette consumption in tandem with increased efforts to inform the public about the health risks of smoking. "Cigarette consumption dropped 50 percent in 20 years," Sajo said.
Martin countered that half the state's high school seniors are 18 years old, which he said would influence younger students to use marijuana if Ballot Measure 5 passes.
"Ten percent of those who use alcohol will become addicted, and I imagine statistics are the same for any addictive drug. The sad thing to me is what it does to young people and to families," Martin said.
Said Sajo: "I think we'd be a lot better off if alcohol and tobacco users had to live under the limits of Ballot Measure 5."
Martin countered that the measure is so vague that it would make it easy for some growers who sell marijuana to maintain that they were growing marijuana for personal use.
to the History of Oregon Reform Efforts page.
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