Director's Letter to Portland Mayor Vera Katz

[Ensuing is the text of a letter sent by Portland NORML Director T.D. Miller to Portland Mayor Vera Katz (who is also Portland's police commissioner), requesting that she not seek continued city funding for the Marijuana Task Force. Miller has received a letter from Mayor Katz in response affirming that "Although requested by the Chief, I am not planning to fund the Marijuana Task Force with city dollars when the federal grant expires" on June 30.

Subsequent inquiries to the Portland Police Bureau's Drugs and Vice Division and Marijuana Task Force by Portland NORML confirmed that, despite the loss of the $20,000 federal grant, the task force will continue as part of the Drugs and Vice Division. Mayor Katz in fact turned down a request to double the size of the task force. However, the task force is applying for additional federal funding through the Oregon Department of Justice-administered Marijuana Eradication Program.

We invite you to write a nice "thank you" letter to the mayor.

Portland NORML has also made some inquiries about who to lobby in opposition to the grant from the Department of Justice. According to one state official, "you can direct letters to AG [Attorney General] Ted Kulongoski at 100 Justice Building, Salem, OR 97310 and they will get to the right place." According to the state's email search engine at, the e-mail address is The voice number is (503) 378-6002.

Here is Miller's letter:]

Mayor Vera Katz
1220 SW Fifth Ave., Room 3031
Portland, OR 97205

March 11, 1996

Dear Mayor Katz,

Although the Portland chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has been faxing you information for some time now, we are disappointed to read in Willamette Week that the Portland Police Bureau's Marijuana Task Force may be included again in the new city budget. There is a clear need for the Portland Police Bureau to begin assigning marijuana offenses the lowest priority.

The reasons this is necessary have been documented to some extent in the faxes we have sent you. I would also like to make an appointment to discuss the issue and your concerns about it. I will be calling your office about this in the next few days.

Every major study of drug policy and marijuana commissioned by American and other governments, as well as by private groups, has explained why criminalizing marijuana only makes our problems worse in every way. We are sure you want only what is best for Portland and Portlanders. That is why we urge you to consider alternatives that have been found more effective, for example in Vancouver, B.C. and San Jose, California. I'd be glad to bring some more information and the actual text of guidelines being used in other communities.

Please let me explain why the Marijuana Task Force causes more harm than good. From the 32 Portlanders who have called Portland NORML since May 1995 for information after being arrested by the Marijuana Task Force, I've gathered some figures I hope you will find illuminating.

All of the 32 were apprehended in their own homes. Only two of them told the police to get a search warrant. (They did, and one was kept on the property until the search warrant got there, was busted and won in court when the search warrant was ruled invalid. The other was only charged with possession of a small quantity.) All were adults, but only three were unemployed and over half owned their homes. All but two had no prior records except traffic tickets. One exception had been busted for marijuana possession 15 years previously. The other had been arrested for marijuana possession nine years previously. None had weapons. None resisted arrest.

Twenty-six of the 32 had children, none of whom had discipline problems at school or home. All of the 32 said they were growing for their own consumption. Eight of the 32 said they used marijuana for medical reasons (chronic back pain, depression, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome and anorexia).

Those who were working had numerous years with their current employer. One had awards for job performance. Some of the occupations were: truck driver, industrial production manager, landscaper, office clerk, construction worker, disc jockey, musician and secretary.

I look forward to speaking with you soon.


TD Miller
Director, Portland chapter, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
[street address omitted here]
Portland, OR 97206
Tel. 777-9088



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