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Jeff Merkley on Drugs

Democratic Jr Senator (OR)


Positives of pot legalization outweigh the negatives

Oregon's junior senator said that, on balance, he supports a measure on the November ballot that would legalize marijuana in his state. Sen. Jeff Merkley said that while both sides make strong cases for and against Measure 91, the positives of legalization outweigh the negatives. Here's where he stands:

"I think folks on both sides of the argument make a good case," Merkley said. "And there is concern about a series of new products--and we don't have a real track record from Colorado and Washington. But I feel on balance that we spend a lot of money on our criminal justice system in the wrong places and I lean in favor of this ballot measure."

While politicians nationwide have been reluctant to stake out a position on the issue, Merkley is unlikely to be the last to so explicitly announce his support for legalization as attitudes toward the drug continue to shift. As an increasingly clear majority of Americans support the idea of legalizing the drug, more are expected to follow.

Source: Washington Post on 2014 Oregon Senate debate , Oct 24, 2014

Step up enforcement to combat meth

Over the last decade, Iíve addressed several major public safety challenges. I helped pass a sweeping anti-meth plan that Governing magazine called the ďnationís strictest.Ē Iíve worked to develop a plan that calls for increased federal support to combat meth, add police to the streets, crack down on sex offenders, and protect victims of violent crime.

Right now in Oregon, meth is threatening our communities and casting a cloud upon the future of our state. To take it on we need to increase federal resources to prosecute meth producers. Iíll fight in Washington to add more federal prosecutors in Oregon and increase the capability of the Drug Enforcement Agency to investigate and arrest drug dealers.

We have to step up enforcement, but locking up drug dealers and shutting down meth labs is only part of the puzzle. Iíll also push for investment in proven meth drug treatment programs at the local, state and federal levels and strengthen sentences for property crime and identify theft.

Source: Op-Ed by Jeff Merkley in The Gresham Outlook , Jul 26, 2008

Toughen laws against meth traffickers

Merkley says federal money should pay for 500 more police in Oregon. [Merkley proposes] a $309 million anti-crime package aimed at reversing Bush administration cuts in aid to local law enforcement.

Merkley hopes his crime-fighting proposals will respond to voter concerns about high levels of methamphetamine use and cuts to law enforcement in many Oregon communities.

Merkley wants the federal government to pay the costs of adding another 50,000 local police officers around the country, as well as additional prosecutors and resources for crime labs. He would also toughen laws against meth traffickers, toughen reporting requirements for sex offenders and expand federal laws against child pornography.

Source: By Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian , Jul 2, 2008

Exclude industrial hemp from definition of marijuana.

Merkley co-sponsored Industrial Hemp Farming Act

Sponsor's Remarks:
Rep. PAUL: Nine States allow industrial hemp production or research in accord with State laws. However, Federal law is standing in the way of farmers in these States growing what may be a very profitable crop. Because of current Federal law, all hemp included in products sold in the US must be imported instead of being grown by American farmers. Since 1970, the federal Controlled Substances Act's inclusion of industrial hemp in the "schedule one" definition of marijuana has prohibited American farmers from growing industrial hemp despite the fact that industrial hemp has such a low content of THC (the psychoactive chemical in the related marijuana plant) that nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming hemp.

The US is the only industrialized nation that prohibits industrial hemp cultivation. Industrial hemp is a crop that was grown legally throughout the US for most of our Nation's history. In fact, during World War II, the Federal Government actively encouraged American farmers to grow industrial hemp to help the war effort. It is unfortunate that the Federal Government has stood in the way of American farmers competing in the global industrial hemp market. Indeed, the founders of our Nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited Government.

Source: HR1831/S3501/HR525(2013) 12-S3501 on Aug 2, 2012

Exempt industrial hemp from marijuana laws.

Merkley signed Industrial Hemp Farming Act

Congressional Summary:Amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana." Defines "industrial hemp" to mean the plant Cannabis sativa and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3%.

Argument in favor (Sen. Ron Wyden):

Members of Congress hear a lot about how dumb regulations are hurting economic growth and job creation. The current ban on growing industrial hemp is hurting job creation in rural America and increasing our trade deficit. This bill will end this ridiculous regulation. Right now, the US is importing over $10 million in hemp products--a crop that US farmers could be profitably growing right here at home, if not for government rules prohibiting it. Now, even though hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant, there are major differences between them. The Chihuahua and St. Bernard come from the same species, too, but no one is going to confuse them.

Argument in opposition (Drug Enforcement Agency):

Argument in opposition (DrugWatch.org 10/30/2013):

Source: S.359/H.R.525 14_S0359 on Feb 14, 2013

Other candidates on Drugs: Jeff Merkley on other issues:
OR Gubernatorial:
John Kitzhaber
OR Senatorial:
Jason Conger
Monica Wehby
Ron Wyden

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Page last updated: Jan 02, 2015