Our Opinion

Oregon's existing medical marijuana laws have created a mess - placing pot in a murky legal status that is confusing for law enforcement, employers and even the people who might have a legitimate health reason for the use of marijuana.

Given the well-documented problems with the medical marijuana program, we agree with proponents of Measure 74, which appears on the Nov. 2 ballot: Something needs to be done. In our view, however, this particular measure would only add to the confusion, pushing marijuana closer to legalization without actually making it legal.

Measure 74 would set up a system of nonprofit dispensaries that could produce, sell, transport and supply pot to people who hold medical marijuana cards. At present, it is very easy to obtain permission for a medical marijuana card through physicians who specialize in authorizing such cards. The state has granted cards to tens of thousands of Oregonians in the 12 years since voters initially approved the medical marijuana program.

But there are obvious troubles that arise from allowing marijuana cards by the thousands. When some people can legally use pot - but others cannot - police have difficulty enforcing drug laws and employers are burdened with deciding whether some workers should be excluded from their drug policies.

Measure 74 doesn't solve these issues, but it does have the potential to greatly expand the availability of marijuana and encourage even more people to avail themselves of the program.

We have argued that Oregonians need to make up their minds about marijuana -either it is legal or it is not. Measure 74 takes another incremental step toward legalization, but fails to ask the real hard questions about pot in overall society.

Voters should reject this measure, lest they further confuse a system that's confounding enough already.

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