For the first time this year, two Oregon measures were evaluated by a "citizens' jury" to give voters an educated source of information about laws that will have a significant impact on the state.
The Citizens Initiative Review selected a group of people demographically matched to the census of the state – diverse in race, religion, politics, age, geographic location and income – to hear from measure sponsors, critics and other experts. After reviewing the initiatives for a week, the group crafted a statement about the measure.
The entire record of the group's activities are available online. Every witness presentation to the group is available on the site, as well as all documents that the jury accessed. If you weren't one of the 24 people selected to serve on each jury, you now have the opportunity to make your own decisions from the information supplied to the group (although set aside some time for everything, as it took the good part of a week for the jury to hear all the information).
Director Tyrone Reitman hopes the people of Oregon will see the process as a valuable public service and vote to fund it. Each evaluation cost about $150,000.
After their experience, jury participants told The Skanner News that
"It totally changed the way I look at the political process," said 26-year-old Shataria Wells, a citizens' jury member who examined Measure 73. "After giving a first read of the measure, of course I'd support this. But after hearing from background witnesses, it really changed my mind. My decision would have been completely different."
Citizens jury members voted on the following findings for Measure 73. The other members voted to support the measure:
• M73 shifts the balance of power in court proceedings, giving the prosecution additional leverage in plea bargaining and limiting the judge's discretion in sentencing individual cases. (21 agree)
• Passed in 1994, Measure 11 (ORS 137.700) provides mandatory minimum sentencing of 70-300 months for the major felony sex crimes defined in Measure 73. (24 agree)
• Mandatory minimum sentencing has not proven a significant deterrent to future DUII or sex crimes. (21 agree)
• An unintended consequence of M73 is that juveniles aged 15 to 17 are subject to 25 year mandatory minimum sentences. (20 agree)
• Oregon spends over 10.9% of its general funds on corrections – a greater percentage than any other state. (19 agree)
Key findings for Measure 74 - The following are statements about the measure and the number of panelists who agree with each statement
• The language of the measure lacks clarity on regulation, operation, and enforcement. (23 of 24 agree)
• Medical marijuana provides recognized benefits for many serious conditions, some of which may not respond to other treatments. (21 of 24 agree)
• Dispensaries are non-profit entities licensed to possess, produce, sell, transport, and supply medical marijuana to cardholders and other dispensaries. (23 of 24 agree)
• Oregon Health Authority, with input from an advisory committee and public hearings, shall develop administrative rules. (21 of 24 agree)
• The program is financially self-sustaining and may provide funds for research. (22 of 24 agree)
• The measure shall provide an assistance program for low income cardholding patients to obtain medical marijuana. (21 of 24 agree)
CITIZEN STATEMENT IN FAVOR OF THE MEASURE:
POSITION TAKEN BY 13 OF 24 PANELISTS
We, 13 members of the Citizens' Initiative Review, support Ballot Measure 74 for the following reasons:
• Implements a dispensary system for patients to acquire medical marijuana in a timely manner
• Provides improved access to safe, alternative treatment of serious medical conditions while reducing harmful side effects and addiction from opiates
• Generates jobs for residents providing a boost to Oregon's economy
• Self-sustaining program with potential to increase state revenue without imposing new taxes
• Introduces additional regulations and control to an existing program previously approved by Oregon voters
• Statewide public hearings allow for actual voter input in the rule making process
Summary: Measure 74 creates a safe, compassionate and prompt access program for Oregon medical marijuana patients, introduces regulation, and is financially sound.
CITIZEN STATEMENT OPPOSED TO THE MEASURE: POSITION TAKEN BY 11 OF 24 PANELISTS
We, 11 members of the Citizens' Initiative Review, oppose Ballot Measure 74 for the following reasons:
• Proponents are saying "trust us" before rules are made.
• Oregonians will not have a vote on such critical details as: maximum number of dispensaries, purchase limit for individuals in a given time period, penalties for infractions, and statewide recordkeeping for cardholders.
• Convicted felons can become dispensary directors or employees five years after conviction.
• Dispensary directors and their employees are exempt from prosecution for marijuana related activities when in "substantial compliance."
• "Substantial compliance" is not defined or enforceable according to district attorneys and law enforcement.
• Availability of marijuana will increase, inviting illegal activity.
Summary: Measure 74, a thinly veiled attempt to legalize marijuana, has a high probability of being abused!