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Legalized marijuana backers to take cause to Salem

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm •  Published: November 7, 2012

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Rebuffed by voters, proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana use in Oregon will take their cause to the Legislature, but persuading lawmakers will be a longshot.

Rep. Peter Buckley, co-chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Wednesday there will be a discussion of why Measure 80 failed, but odds are against the Legislature coming up with something like it to refer to the voters — even if it were patterned on the successful measure passed in Washington state.

However, there may be support for state licensing of growers and distributors of medical marijuana to address concerns over growers selling their excess on the black market, said Buckley, D-Ashland.

"A lot of us have the shared goal of making the medical marijuana more professional and transparent," he said. "I don't want greed to kill the medical marijuana program."

Buckley said another measure is being drafted that would direct the Oregon Health Authority to research which strains of marijuana are most effective against specific ailments.

Voters turned down Measure 80 by 55 percent to 45 percent. Even with no campaign, it passed in Oregon's most liberal counties — Multnomah, Lane, Benton and Lincoln — but lost everywhere else. Even counties were medical marijuana use is highest, such as conservative Josephine County, voters turned it down.

"The patients are afraid and the growers want to keep the gravy train going," said Paul Stanford, the owner of a string of clinics where patients can get a doctor to authorize medical marijuana cards and chief petitioner of Measure 80.

Marijuana advocate and attorney Leland Berger said bringing medical marijuana under control is just where legalization supporters want to start.

There are three or four legislative proposals being developed by supporters to more strictly regulate growing and distributing medical marijuana to address concerns over growers selling their excess pot on the black market, he said.

Berger conceded there were legitimate concerns over the specifics of Measure 80, such as the makeup of an oversight committee. But supporters hope that with 45 percent of voters saying yes to Measure 80, even with virtually no campaign, lawmakers will agree that the logical next step would be to apply new regulations over medical marijuana to all marijuana.

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