While Oregon is one of three states with marijuana legalization on the ballot, with less than two months to go until the election, the campaign to pass that marijuana legalization is in desperate shape.
(Yahoo! News) Proponents of pot legalization in Washington state have raised nearly $2 million since the initiative qualified for the ballot in January, and about $1 million in Colorado since its measure earned a place on the ballot the following month, according to the most recent state campaign figures.
In Oregon, where a voter referendum qualified in July, the legalization campaign reported less than $1,000 in contributions. All three state measures go on the ballot in November, when Americans vote for president and other offices.
New Approach Washington, in addition to the $2 million raised, has the endorsement of several high-profile elected officials and members of law enforcement. It has been running a professionally-produced television ad for weeks now. Regulate Marijuana, the Colorado effort, has produced some of the best pro-marijuana legalization ads and billboards I’ve ever seen, including one that ran during the Democratic National Convention coverage. My favorite ad of theirs is so compelling you’ll be humming the Beatles’ tune for days after seeing it.
So, naturally, with no TV ads on the air, no big money donors contributing, and no high-profile supporters except Willie Nelson, activists in Oregon this weekend spent money and time throwing a smoke-in called Hempstalk.
Now I understand in writing this piece there will be accusations of “sour grapes” hurled my way. I worked at the first Portland Hempstalk on the waterfront and was a speaker and volunteer at successive Hempstalks up until last year’s. In the past couple of years my reporting on the dysfunction of Oregon marijuana activist leaders has made me rather unpopular with them. I was pretty much shunned when I attended last year (despite rescuing the audio/video setup of their Hemposium that they’d failed to plan for.) However, I believe the evidence shows a stunning dereliction of duty to legalization by Oregon activist leaders regardless of my personal issues with them.
Understand first that this hemp festival is unique. Seattle Hempfest, Boston Freedom Rally, and Great Midwest Harvest Fest in Madison, to name a few I’ve attended, are set in the downtown areas of large cities. You can make the argument that members of the general public are going to be confronted with the legalization message from the speakers and vendors and non-profits they cannot avoid as they make their way through the city. Portland Hempstalk, on the other hand, is relegated to Kelley Point Park, so far away from downtown Portland it is beyond the port terminals, out of decent cell phone range, and closer to downtown Vancouver, Washington.
So right off the bat, you can pretty much guarantee the people who are making the ten-or-more mile journey to Portland Hempstalk are what we’d call “the choir” – people who are going to vote for the legalization that is on the ballot regardless. To be charitable we could argue that at least Hempstalk provides the opportunity to register “the choir” as voters and remind them to vote.
But the other unique aspect of Portland Hempstalk is how much it depends on one source of funding and volunteers. You will see the main sponsor banner for The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation (THCF) flying from the stage at Hempstalk, which happens to be the company of the chief petitioner of the Oregon legalization effort, Paul Stanford.