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Oregon Democrats Oppose Marijuana Recriminalization Effort

August 13, 1998, Salem, OR­­ The Democratic Party of Oregon recently announced their opposition to Measure 57, a state referendum recriminalizing the simple possession of marijuana.

"This measure does nothing to deal with the real problems of crime in our state, and deals with an activity that is already sanctioned under the law," the state Party said in an official press release.

Voter passage of Measure 57 this fall would increase the penalty for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana from a non-criminal "violation" to a class C misdemeanor crime. Individuals convicted under the proposed measure could face 30 days in jail, loss of their driving privileges for six months, and have their property seized by law enforcement.

Democratic Party Chair Marc Abrams said that Democrats were concerned the new law would increase the state's rising prison costs.

Oregon's Legislature decriminalized simple marijuana possession in 1973, replacing criminal penalties with a small, mandatory fine. Soon after, ten states enacted similar marijuana decriminalization statutes. Marijuana remains decriminalized in all but one of those states.

"For more than 20 years, Oregon has stood as a leader in the fight for rational marijuana laws," NORML Executive R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said. "Through the referendum process, voters this year have the opportunity to reject recriminalization and continue with a proven and successful state policy."

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