U.S. senator supports pot legalization in
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[October 28, 2014]
By Courtney Sherwood
PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - A Democratic
U.S. Senator from Oregon supports legalizing the recreational use of
marijuana and will vote “yes” to a state initiative next week that would
let adults consume pot for fun, his office said on Monday.
But a staffer for Senator Jeff Merkley said her boss had stopped
short of officially endorsing an Oregon ballot initiative that would
legalize, regulate and tax non-medical marijuana and permit its use
by adults over age 21.
"The senator has not endorsed the ballot measure, but he has said he
will vote for it," said Courtney Warner Crowell, Merkley's deputy
The support makes Merkley the first sitting senator to publicly
support legal recreational pot, according to a round-up of U.S.
politicians' views on the topic updated on Monday by Huffington
Washington state and Colorado this year became the first two U.S.
states to permit recreational sales of marijuana.
Oregon voters will have a second chance in the Nov. 4 general
election to legalize recreational marijuana, after a 2012 effort
failed at the ballot box. Voters in Alaska and Washington, D.C.,
will also vote on recreational marijuana.
A DHM Research poll released Oct. 14 showed this year's Oregon
measure leading with 46 percent of likely voters in favor versus 36
percent against. The poll, of about 500 likely voters, was conducted
Oct. 8 to 11 and had a margin of error of 4.3 percent.
The move comes about a month after a former U.S. attorney for
Oregon, Kris Olson, endorsed the upcoming referendum to legalize
recreational marijuana, saying laws banning the drug have failed to
curb its use.
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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat, and former Oregon
Supreme Court Justice Bill Riggs have also both spoken out in favor
Possession of marijuana is illegal under federal law, but the U.S.
Justice Department has said it will not intervene in states with
"strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems."
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)
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