Oregon Will Vote On Legalizing Recreational Marijuana In 2014

07/22/2014 04:58 pm ET

This November, Oregon voters will get to decide whether they want to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana.

"Initiative Petition 53 has qualified for the November ballot," Tony Green, communications director for Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, confirmed to The Huffington Post Tuesday.

The petition was submitted by New Approach Oregon, a Portland-based marijuana policy reform group, earlier this month. More than 87,000 signatures have been verified by Brown's office.

According to the proposed initiative text, adults 21 and over in Oregon would be able to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana at home and one ounce in public. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would be the agency charged with regulating and monitoring the industry, similar to the regulatory model used in Washington state. Taxes collected on sales of marijuana would be distributed to schools, law enforcement and drug prevention and education programs in the state.

It appears likely that the Oregon measure will pass. A recent poll showed that 57 percent of the state's likely 2014 voters support recreational marijuana legalization. Oregon has already decriminalized cannabis and legalized it for medical use, and Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) has signaled his support for recreational marijuana legalization, should a bill make it to his desk.

"I hear the drumbeats from Washington and Colorado," Kitzhaber said in January, referring to the two U.S. states where legal, regulated marijuana markets already exist. "I want to make sure we have a thoughtful regulatory system. The legislature would be the right place to craft that."

Oregon is not the only state that will consider legalizing recreational marijuana in November. Alaska voters will also decide this fall on regulating marijuana for adults.

"With legalization initiatives qualified in two states -- with another in D.C. likely to be certified soon -- plus several recent wins on the floor of the Republican-controlled U.S. House, 2014 is shaping up to be the biggest year for marijuana reform yet," Tom Angell, chairman of the advocacy group Marijuana Majority, told HuffPost. "If we win these legalization initiatives, it's not only likely that more states will follow suit in 2016, but that presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle are going to see the value in being perceived as pro-reform."

"There's no question it's something the contenders will get asked about in debates," Angell continued. "The more wins our side puts on the board, the more likely it is the candidates will feel like they need to court voters who support legalization."

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