By Steve Elliott
Activists in Oregon have rented 20 billboards in prominent positions across the state in support of their campaign to end criminal penalties for cannabis.
The billboards, found in Portland, Eugene, Beaverton, Roseburg, and Salem, carry the messages "Help End Marijuana Prohibition," or "Prohibition is the Problem, Hemp is the Answer!"
"Of course, ending prohibition is the goal, but energizing Oregon and showing a solid outreach and grassroots effort is key," said activist Michael Bachara of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), which is behind Initiatives 21 and 22.
Oregon's 2014 Initiative 21 is a constitutional amendment to end prohibition and stop imposing criminal penalties for marijuana. It needs 116,284 valid registered Oregon voters' signatures by July 3rd to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.
Initiative 22 is a proposed statute to regulate and tax marijuana, and allow farmers to grow hemp for fuel, fiber and food. It needs 87,213 valid registered Oregon voters' signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
"These measures are going to be on the ballot," said chief petitioner Paul Stanford. "Prohibition doesn't work. Filling our jails with nonviolent marijuana prisoners is a waste of public resources and people's future."
"We will end prohibition and criminal penalties for marijuana," Stanford said. "Our initiatives are designed to move Oregon ahead of both Washington and Colorado, so Oregon's economy can reap the benefits of these rapidly growing industries, sooner rather than later."