Before you vote on legalizing pot, what can we learn from Colorado?

Before you vote on legalizing pot, what can we learn from Colorado? »Play Video
Anthony Johnson, front, director of New Approach Oregon, and other supporters of legalizing marijuana carry boxes of petition signatures to state elections offices on Thursday, June 26, 2014 in Salem, Ore. New Approach is seeking a statewide vote on marijuana legalization in the November election. (AP Photo/Chad Garland)

It will likely be up to you in November whether to legalize marijuana in Oregon. The group New Approach Oregon turned in enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

The group turned in more than 145,710 signatures Thursday. It needed 87,213 to qualify. The Oregon Secretary of State will now work to verify the signatures.

The group argues legalizing and regulating marijuana will mean more revenue, better prioritized law enforcement resources and less accessibility for kids.

“One thing parents know is marijuana is easily accessible in our communities. What we don't know is where it comes from, who is providing it and what's in it,” said ACLU Associate Director Jann Carson.

The ACLU helped craft the Oregon ballot measure.

“By bringing marijuana into the light of day and heavily regulating and licensing it at every possible step of the way, we’ll provide a much better policy and will provide a better way for us to keep it out of the hands of our kids,” she said.

However, a representative for the Oregon District Attorneys Association said his main worry is accessibility to young people. Clatsop County District Attorney Joshua Marquis believes marijuana enforcement is already lenient and fair, and he worries about pot-infused candy and treats appealing to children.

How’s it going in Colorado?

Recreational marijuana has been legal in Colorado for six months and has seen ups and downs.

The Denver Post reported Thursday that stores seem to be following the rules. None of the retail marijuana stores sold to minors during undercover police stings.

But business is booming with marijuana-infused candy.

“You think you can eat the whole candy bar, but it’s a very bad idea,” said The Denver Post’s marijuana editor Ricardo Baca.

He said one candy bar can have 10 doses.

“I just did the story about a marijuana food truck that sells only infused products, and their products are pretty strong; in fact, I think they’re too strong,” he said.

In April, some Colorado kids got in trouble for bringing marijuana to school and trading marijuana edibles. A report in The New York Times found a hospital in Aurora, Colorado that saw nine kids after they consumed marijuana in the first five months of the year compared to eight kids in all of 2013.

Crime, however, is down in the city of Denver. The same report found a 4.8 percent decrease in violent crime and a 10 percent decrease in overall crime compared to the same time last year.

The impact on dangerous driving is harder to measure.

“It’s difficult to track because Colorado State Patrol weren’t tracking it in past,” said Baca. “Now it looks like numbers are up because they weren’t tracking them previously.”

A report in USA Today says a Denver detox facility saw 15 percent of their patients arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana this year, compared to eight percent the year before.

Colorado is bringing in millions of dollars from fees and taxes on marijuana and will provide tens of millions to schools, but the amount so far is not as much as some proponents projected.

Baca said, overall, it’s been calmer than expected, but it has changed the state’s image.

“We used to be known for the Rocky Mountains and skiing,” he said. “Now we’re known for marijuana. Is that a bad thing?”