While the New Approach Oregon campaign to legalize marijuana in Oregon has raised over one million dollars and surpassed 100,000 signatures, the other legalization campaign in Oregon is beset by low signature counts and labor controversy. 

The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (or CRRH) was picketed by its signature gatherers, who walked off the job June 9. The canvassers, who have organized as United Campaign Workers (or UCW), posted a demand letter to CRRH complaining of late and bounced paychecks and CRRH’s failure to reimburse of travel expenses. 

CRRH is gathering signatures for Initiative 21, a constitutional amendment called Help End Marijuana Prohibition (or HEMP), and Initiative 22, a statutory legalization called the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (or OCTA). CRRH was also the organization that had placed a more liberal form of OCTA on the ballot last year that allowed for unlimited personal possession and cultivation. That OCTA failed at the ballot with just 46.5% of the vote in the same election where Colorado and Washington were passing legalization with 55 percent of the vote.

OCTA’s failure last year was augured by a lack of funding and support from any national drug reform organizations. After spending roughly $400,000 to make the ballot, CRRH had no funds left to campaign for the measure. OCTA was criticized by the press and pundits as overreaching in setting no limits to personal use and monopolistic in setting up a single state marijuana wholesaler run by the very growers who would be selling to it. It didn’t help matters that OCTA’s Chief Petitioner, CRRH head Paul Stanford, is largely dismissed in serious political circles for his legacy of shady dealings, broken promises, and financial misdeeds.

This election, New Approach Oregon (or NAO) was founded, taking its cues from the successful legalization campaigns in two other states. NAO quickly secured the backing of the same deep-pockets funders who helped pass the nation’s first statewide marijuana legalization. NAO drafted ballot language that polled well with voters. NAO had a chief petitioner who succeeded in bringing a previous marijuana initiative to the ballot. NAO gained the endorsement and support of political heavy-hitters. But despite all that, Stanford and CRRH decided their failure to pass one initiative in the 2012 presidential election year meant they should use the same funding and tactics to try to pass two initiatives in the 2014 mid-term election year when fewer marijuana supporters vote.

CRRH’s HEMP has submitted 43,000 of the over 116,000 signatures needed (since it is a constitutional amendment) and OCTA has submitted just 34,000 of the over 87,000 signatures it requires (like NAO requires) to qualify for the November ballot. It appears very unlikely that CRRH can muster the signatures it needs to place either measure on the November ballot. One has to wonder how many more signatures NAO would have by now if all Oregon legalizers had been focused on just one initiative?

UCW also wanted to discuss “why we’ve continued on [HEMP] so late in the game and if it’s going to fail.” On Monday, UCW offered to return to work unconditionally, but were locked out by CRRH management. UCW says the lock out is illegal and will be filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. 

CRRH did not return HIGH TIMES’ request for comment.

"Radical" Russ Belville is the host of The Russ Belville Show, which airs live at 3pm Pacific.