SALEM – A bill that would legalize marijuana and authorize the state of Oregon to regulate and tax cannabis for recreational use will get a public hearing early next month.
House Bill 3371 is on the agenda of the House Judiciary Committee for April 2.
The bill as it’s written will allow the production, processing and sale of marijuana and marijuana infused products.
Cannabis would be taxed at $35 an ounce, and be sold at outlets licensed by the state.
Some state lawmakers feel it is time to formulate a plan for the eventual but inevitable legalization of marijuana.
“It looks like legalization is on the way, and so we want to look at how we can best draft a law like that. Now I don’t know if we can pass anything this session, but we’re going to take a look at it and see how it can works best for the citizens of Oregon," said Rep. Jeff Barker, (D) Aloha, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
The debate is sure to be robust, before any vote to legalize marijuana.
Rep. Wally Hicks (D) Grants Pass, is also on the House Judiciary Committee, and is concerned about legalizing marijuana on several levels.
“My concern about taxing, is that if you put a tax on it that exceeds the black market price, then you’ve done nothing to address the black market,” said Hicks, who also thinks states should not interfere where federal anti-marijuana laws are in place.
But pro-marijuana groups are pleased the legislature is considering the issue seriously.
“I think this bill is the kind of approach that we want to show to lawmakers and say - look, we want to do this comprehensively we want to do this the right way,” said Roy Kaufmann, who represents Marijuana Police Project. His group plans a 2016 initiative vote to legalize marijuana in the state.
The Oregon State Sheriff’s Association is against legalization.