Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Were the backers of Measure 80 - the marijuana legalization measure on the Nov. 6 ballot - interested solely in allowing people 21 and older to grow and to smoke the stuff in the privacy of their homes, they'd have a better chance of persuading voters to approve the initiative.

But there's a lot more to Measure 80 than letting adults get a legal high.

The initiative reads like propaganda designed to convince voters that marijuana is not only just another intoxicant, like alcohol, but a wondrous substance that can help to cure the state's physical as well as fiscal ills.

Measure 80, with its emphasis on establishing state-licensed pot shops, seems to us more beneficial to people who want to sell marijuana than to people who just want to smoke it.

A keystone of the measure is creating an Oregon Cannabis Commission. This commission would, among its many other duties, issue licenses to qualified marijuana growers, license stores that could sell marijuana, set prices, and even establish standards for the "quality and potency" of pot sold at sanctioned stores.

So much for the rustic "grow your own" ethic of past decades.

Besides which, five of the seven members of the commission would be elected at large by marijuana growers and processors.

Last we checked, Jack Daniels and Jim Beam aren't members of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Although Measure 80 supporters insist that legalizing marijuana will make it harder for kids to get pot, that claim, based on the language of the measure itself, seems laughable.

For instance, although the measure regulates marijuana that's ready to smoke, it specifically exempts hemp from any regulation. Yet the measure defines hemp as including marijuana seeds and starter plants.

Notwithstanding proponents' touting of hemp for its various industrial uses, including biofuel, it's obvious that the vast majority of the marijuana grown now ends up in people's lungs, not their fuel tanks.

Pretending that marijuana seeds and starter plants won't eventually be put to that use, and thus don't need to be regulated, is ridiculous.

It used to be that supporters of legalizing marijuana tended to frame the issue as one of personal freedom, the right for adults to decide for themselves what they eat or smoke or drink, without interference from the government.

Measure 80, though, seems designed to get the state government intimately involved in the marijuana business.

That's not a proper role for the state, and voters should reject Measure 80.