SALEM, OR — An increase in fines for marijuana possession was stripped from an Oregon House bill Monday with little fanfare and a unanimous vote from the committee, largely due to work by Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement and other activist organizations.
The fines, which would have increased to a maximum of $5000 for simple possession or for delivery of less than 5 grams with no sales, were part of a larger package of fees and fines the Legislature is considering. A number of those fines – including the two involving marijuana will likely be discussed later this year by an interim committee.
Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement first learned of the proposed fine increases when an alert advocate informed IP-24 Chief Petitioner Bob Wolfe of their inclusion in the bill. The CSLE team went to work, contacting key legislators who were unaware of the increases. Facing a huge outcry from the activist community, legislative leaders quickly agreed the controversial fine increases would be stripped from the broader bill.
“That’s a win for us in Salem,” said Wolfe. “And we hope it foreshadows an even bigger win in November when we ask Oregon voters to remove criminal penalties for adults who use for their own personal use. Then we’ll be back in Salem in the 2013 session to make sure our gains at the ballot box are protected.”
First, Wolfe said, we need to qualify IP-24 for the ballot. Already, CSLE has 30,000 signatures, including nearly 15,000 in the last three weeks.
“We are steadily building our numbers every week and putting more signature gatherers on the street. It’s an enormous and expensive task to get 185,000 signatures. And we need every bit of help we can get,” said Wolfe.