PORTLAND -- Oregon voters now have a chance to make marijuana legal to anyone over the age of 21. Late Friday the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act got enough signatures to make the November ballot.
Supporters say the state's struggling general fund would get more than $140 million a year in tax revenue from selling marijuana in state-licensed stores.
"It's an industry that already exists, it's already booming, it's already Oregon's biggest cash crop," said Roy Kaufmann who is promoting the initiative.
Just like alcohol and gambling, 7 percent of the revenue would go to drug treatment programs around the state.
"The concept of additional revenue coming in to support treatment agencies is an interesting concept, the question is: Will it be enough?" Said Dr. Andy Mendenhall, an addiction medicine physician who is against any move to legalize marijuana.
He says recent studies from the Netherlands show a link between marijuana use and depression.
"What's concerning is that in young adults we do know marijuana becomes a gateway drug," said Mendenhall.
The legislation would also legalize the growing of hemp, a strain of marijuana already used by Oregon companies to make products like milk, clothing, and even biofuels. It's legal to purchase hemp, but not to grow it. Local companies must now purchase hemp seeds from China and Canada.
"It just doesn't make fiscal sense to spend money fighting something when you could be making money regulating something," said Kaufmann.
Oregon now joins Washington and Colorado. All three states will be voting in November on initiatives to legalize and tax marijuana.