In his first live interview after filing New Approach Oregon’s 2014 legalization initiative, Chief Petitioner Anthony Johnson flatly rejected any political compromise that would include a controversial per se DUID limit for THC in blood.  

On’s "The Russ Belville Show," when asked whether New Approach Oregon would continue its legalization campaign if that meant emulating Washington’s impaired driving limits, Johnson stated, “New Approach Oregon will not move forward with a measure that kills home grows or allows for per se DUIs.”

Activists in Washington State fought fiercely to prevent last year’s legalization measure -- Initiative 502 -- from including a per se DUID limit of five nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood (ng/mL). “Per se” just means “automatically guilty” and it was included in I-502 when New Approach Washington decided that without it, voters’ concerns over impaired driving would doom the measure, which ended up passing with 55% of the vote.

Activists in Colorado decided against including a per se DUID in their Amendment 64 and, also unlike Washington, included the right to cultivate personal amounts of marijuana at home. It also passed with 55% of the vote; however, legislators eventually passed a per se DUID of five nanograms for Colorado, too. Unlike Washington’s DUID law, though, if you’re over the limit Colorado’s law has a rebuttable presumption of DUID, which means “automatically guilty until proven innocent.”

New Approach Oregon’s legalization initiative would allow persons over 21 to possess up to eight ounces of usable marijuana and cultivate four plants of any size and maturity. Commercial licenses would be available at a cost of $1,000 for those who wish to enter the marijuana business, which would be controlled by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Marijuana would be taxed at a flat rate of $35 per ounce; Johnson explained that the flat tax rather than a percentage tax is necessary to avoid a political fight in a state that has no sales taxes.

Johnson’s initiative differs from another marijuana legalization initiative, I-21 or “OCTA”, which has already been filed. I-21 would allow for 24 ounces and 24 plants per person, similar to the medical marijuana law. Also, Johnson’s four plant limit is per address, not per person. When asked why New Approach Oregon calls for lower limits than patients are allowed, Johnson said they felt like voters would be frightened by such high allowances for recreational use.

Johnson says he’s alarmed by the recent development in Washington over the possible dismantling of that state’s medical marijuana program following enactment of New Approach Washington’s marijuana legalization language. However, Johnson feels that Oregon’s recent passage of medical marijuana dispensary regulations bodes well for protecting them from the unintended consequences of legalization.

“The main reason the Washington program is under attack is because the medical marijuana dispensaries are unregulated,” he explained. “That’s the fault of the US Attorneys who scared the governor who vetoed regulations, and when regulated facilities… are legalized for recreational users, the US Attorneys quickly say, ‘Oh, we won’t go after these regulated dispensaries, but you unregulated medical ones, we’re going after you.’  Of course, they’re unregulated because the US Attorneys threatened the governor with prosecution of her state employees!”

The complete interview with Anthony Johnson can be found on episode #291 of The Russ Belville Show.
"Radical" Russ Belville is host of The Russ Belville Show, which airs live at 3pm Pacific.