SALEM - An initiative to legalize marijuana is a step closer to getting on the November ballot, along with a measure banning gill net fishing and another abolishing the state's inheritance tax.
Those and four other initiatives gathered the required number of signatures to get on the ballot. The Secretary of State's Office has until Aug. 5 to ensure the signatures are valid. Out of the 40 petitions floated, only seven survived Friday's deadline. The other four deal with gambling, the corporate kicker tax and a real estate tax.
Proposed changes to the Oregon Constitution need 116,284 signatures to qualify, while statutory changes require 87,213 signatures.
Proponents of legalizing marijuana stood on the Capitol steps Friday morning, holding signs urging people to "end prohibition" on the drug and to "regulate (rather than) incarcerate."
The marijuana advocates were in Salem to hand in the last batch of signatures to the Secretary of State's Office.
The so-called Oregon Cannabis Act would allow commercial cultivation of cannabis. Adults could grow marijuana without a license; farmers could grow hemp without one.
"Prohibition didn't work in the '30s and it doesn't work now," said Zimmer Frey, 38, a Salem resident who was holding a sign that read, "Yes, Oregon cannabis." Frey said the measure would get the drug out of the "hands of children" and would put money back in state coffers to go toward "education and good things for Oregon."
Another measure that appeared to gather enough signatures would ban gill nets on the Columbia River. Those pushing the ban say the nets injure fish and minimize the number that can be thrown back alive. The nets catch fish by their gills. Commercial fishermen warn a ban would cost people their jobs and hurt the fishing industry. They also argue that it would simply push fishermen across the border to Washington.
Those behind the push to phase out the estate tax over the next four years also had gathered the required number of signatures. The move to rid the state of the tax was financed by Common Sense of Oregon, whose founder, Kevin Mannix, is a former lawmaker best known for his tough-on-crime sentencing measures like Measure 11.
Another measure that has qualified for the ballot would eliminate transfer taxes on the sale of property. It was backed by real estate agents. The signatures for that measure have already been verified.
A measure backed by the state's unions to use kicker funds for K-12 education could also be on the ballot. Voters will also likely be asked to consider approving two measures dealing with state's first nontribal casino east of Portland.