Read the business pages in Oregon’s newspapers and it’s hard to be optimistic about where our state’s economy is heading. Just this week alone, Oregonians saw: a story about U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden calling for new revenue sources for Oregon’s counties hit hardest by the waning timber economy; an article about wind-energy companies in the Pacific Northwest bracing for lay-offs in the face of expiring production tax credits; and most recently, the announcement by Boise Inc. that it is shuttering its St. Helens paper plant, which will put 106 hard-working Oregonians out of work.
The common thread in these stories, aside from the impact these announcements will have on households across the state, is that all three industries – timber, renewable energy and paper – are manufacturing industries. Oregon is a manufacturing state. Oregonians are good at harvesting our natural resources and equally good at making things.
With this in mind, Oregonians need to vote yes on Measure 80. Yes, Measure 80 will regulate and tax marijuana for adults, saving law enforcement $60 million a year and generating tens of millions of dollars in new revenues for our state’s general fund, for schools and social services. And regulating marijuana like liquor will make it harder, not easier, for Oregon’s youth to get access to marijuana, just like it’s harder for those youth to get liquor now than ever before because of strict laws, tight regulations and ongoing education.
But Measure 80 will do something even more important for Oregon: it will give Oregon’s farmers and entrepreneurs the protection they need to once again grow agricultural hemp in Oregon.
Hemp, for those who don’t know, is one of America’s most important crops. During World War II, the U.S. government paid American farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. Modern farming and processing technologies enable hemp to be used in the production of tens of thousands of products, from bio-plastics manufacturing to sustainable construction materials to bio-fuels to textiles to food and personal-care products.
In Oregon, hemp can replace our flagging timber industry. It can revitalize our pulp and paper industry. And it can restore Oregon’s promising biofuels industry. Imagine an economy where farmers in eastern, central and southern Oregon grow agricultural hemp and sell that crop to biofuel refineries, textile mills, green-building start-ups, hemp food processors and more.
Oregon is a place of incredible natural beauty and resources. Oregonians are pragmatic people who look for real solutions to our challenges. This Election Day, Oregonians will have the opportunity to create a new industry for our state, one that benefits rural farmers, small-town businesses and big-city start-ups alike.
For the 106 people who got the bad news from Boise Inc., a new, sustainable, viable and prosperous hemp industry is the good news they need to hear. But that good news will only come when Measure 80 passes. To learn more, visit www.vote80.org.
Spokesperson for Yes on 80