Huffpost Politics

Oregon Governor Signals Support For Legal Marijuana

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Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber told newspaper editors last week that the Beaver State needs to get ready for legal weed.

"I hear the drumbeats from Washington and Colorado," Kitzhaber said, The Oregonian reported. "I want to make sure we have a thoughtful regulatory system. The legislature would be the right place to craft that."

A recent poll showed 57 percent of the state's likely 2014 voters support recreational marijuana legalization. Oregon has already decriminalized cannabis and legalized it for medical use.

After a poorly coordinated and widely criticized marijuana legalization effort that failed in 2012, marijuana legalization advocates are now approaching the issue from two sides, both with a ballot initiative and through lobbying state lawmakers for legislative action.

"A majority of Americans support ending marijuana prohibition, and that surely includes a majority of Oregonians," said Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project, to The Huffington Post. "Voters will surely welcome a well-written law that effectively regulates and taxes marijuana similarly to alcohol."

Voters in Colorado and Washington approved recreational marijuana legalization measures back in 2012 which legalized the possession, use and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. The Department of Justice let both states to proceed with the groundbreaking new laws last year, allowing a legal, taxed and regulated marijuana marketplace to take shape. On New Year's Day, the historic first legal recreational marijuana dispensaries opened in Colorado to long lines and tremendous revenue, generating more than $5 million in the first week alone. Washington's pot shops are expected to open later in the year.

Support for legalizing marijuana in the U.S. has grown to its highest point ever in recent months: 58 percent of Americans now back legal weed, according to Gallup's latest poll.

More than a dozen states, including Oregon, are expected to legalize marijuana in the the coming years. One recent study has projected a $10 billion legal marijuana industry nationwide by 2018.

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