Ballot Measure 2065-17, the Recreational Methamphetamine Dispensary Act, went down in defeat, with 15.4 million Oregonians voting against and only 5.6 million voting in favor.
Supporters of the measure blamed a low turnout among meth users, and the fact that a number of meth heads who actually did vote filled out their ballots incorrectly (at least one apparently thought he was subscribing to Ranger Rick’s). Now supporters say they will try again in this upcoming November’s election.
The chief argument in favor of some form of decriminalization of methamphetamine was that efforts to suppress manufacture have become increasingly difficult. In 1966, the manufacture of meth required sophisticated equipment and hard-to-find precursor chemicals. By 2016, most meth was being cooked up in moldering trailers out of laundry bleach and chemical fertilizer. Today, most meth is made in the toilets at dance clubs, using liquid soap from the dispensers and deodorant cakes from the urinals. Frequent police patrols of men’s rooms have proven ineffective, as a batch can be manufactured, sold, and consumed between one patrol pass and the next.
The idea of legalizing the sale and recreational use of methamphetamine has been highly controversial, and opponents of the measure outspent supporters by $250 million over $43 million in favor ($2 million of which was in McDonald’s gift certificates). The opponents were so well-funded in part because of donations from the operators of peyote and ‘shroom dispensaries, who were not shy in expressing their disdain for meth usage and declaring that there was no similarity between their business and the meth trade.
As one of the most frequently seen ads put it, with stark simplicity, “Speed Kills.”
By John M. Burt