DON’T SMOKE THE MESSENGER: It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over
Oh, sorry. You thought this fight was over? Not by a long shot.
Let’s start with the obvious: it’s still illegal federally. So long as that’s the case, then state legalization is at risk. Not to mention all the other issues that come with a federal ban such as legitimate businesses not having access to banks because of federal money regulations, the lack of environmental protections because the EPA is a federal agency, the inability for patients to travel across state borders with medicine and so on.
That not hit close enough to home? Fine. If some of Oregon’s crankiest have their way, it won’t be entirely legal here either. Jackson County already passed an obscene additional tax on growers, both Medford and Grants Pass city councils are working to classify grows as a public nuisance because of the smell, and a judge in Cave Junction recently ruled that a dispensary is illegal because federal law trumps state law. Additionally, the jostling in Salem over how to implement legalization ended with a compromise that allows cities and counties where 55 percent or more voted against Measure 91 can pass local bans. Those that didn’t can still use zoning regulations to essentially ban pot without banning pot. That’s a lot of places and ways pot is still illegal here in Oregon, despite our voting for it to be legalized statewide.
Then there’s the leftovers from the war on drugs. Criminal records that should be expunged, non-violent offenders that should be freed, seized property that should be returned.
And then there’s probably the biggest immediate problem: that employers will still be allowed to fire employees for pot use, not at work, but in their off-hours, a truly obscene form of discrimination, especially if it comes against medical users, as it recently did against a Colorado man. Quadriplegic Brandon Coats, used medical cannabis to control violent muscle spasms, but was fired from his job at Dish Network over a no-tolerance policy, a firing upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court last month. Dish Network should be truly ashamed of themselves, and any Dish Network subscribing Don’t Smoke the Messenger readers out there that agree should drop them immediately.
If anyone out there in Southern Oregon is fired over pot use in their free time, contact The Messenger and we will go to bat for you in the press.
And there’s more. The freedom to garden pot is much like a pot garden itself: both have to be tended or else they’ll, well, go to pot. Measure 91 was the start. What comes next will be decided by who shows up, those that voted for legalization, or those that didn’t.