Oregon votes no on legalizing pot and new casino

November 7, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon voters have rejected legalizing marijuana and development of the state's first nontribal casino.

While Colorado and Washington state voters voted for regulating marijuana like alcohol, supporters of a similar measure failed to generate much campaign money in Oregon and it failed Tuesday.

The pot measure was winning in Oregon's liberal Multnomah County but was getting soundly thumped everywhere else.

As expected, two measures that would have allowed a nontribal casino in Wood Village, east of Portland, failed.

Two Canadian companies and a pair of businessmen from Lake Oswego fought hard to persuade voters to approve the casino, but they abandoned their campaign when polls showed that voters were overwhelmingly opposed. Proponents pitched the idea as a revenue generator and jobs creator. Opponents argued the operation would siphon money from tribal casinos and open the door to more such establishments statewide.

Oregon has a reputation for pushing the boundaries on marijuana laws, but organizers failed to raise much cash for Measure 80.

Marijuana activists who plowed big bucks into campaigns in Washington state and Colorado complained the Oregon measure was poorly written and didn't poll well. It didn't qualify for the ballot until July, severely limiting the time available to sway voters. They also don't care for the man with a blemished record who was pushing Oregon's measure.

Supporters said legalized marijuana would generate millions for the state in new taxes while cutting down on criminal activity. Opponents questioned whether the measure would increase drug use and crime.

Approval of regulated marijuana in Washington and Colorado could trigger a showdown with the federal government, which prohibits the use or possession of marijuana.

Also on Tuesday, voters rejected a ballot measure phasing out Oregon's estate tax. Opponents said the measure is a giveaway to the wealthy and would only benefit 2 percent of the richest taxpayers while the state struggles to fund schools and police.

Voters turned down a ballot measure aimed at prohibiting gillnets for nontribal commercial fishermen on the Columbia River. That result was expected after recreational fishing groups who supported it reversed their position. Instead, the proponents got behind a compromise pushed by Gov. John Kitzhaber that would prohibit gillnets only on the main stem of the Columbia.

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