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Other initiatives await ballot status

Measures would affect primary elections, marijuana.


As the filing deadline nears, sponsors have submitted more than enough signatures for a ballot initiative that would establish a top-two primary election in Oregon.

Backers are getting close to the threshold for one ballot initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana and regulate its sale and cultivation. But a sponsor of a different pair of initiatives has abandoned his effort.

July 3 is the deadline for filing signatures to qualify measures for the Nov. 4 statewide election. The secretary of state has 30 days to verify signatures and assign measure numbers for the ballot.

One initiative for women's rights has qualified already, and will join two other measures on the ballot.

The chief sponsor of the top-two primary measure is Jim Kelly of Kimberly, founder and owner of Rejuvenation Inc. in Portland, which he sold in 2011 to Williams-Sonoma.

Advocates have submitted 140,000 signatures; the measure requires 87,213 valid signatures.

Under a top-two system, which is being used in California and Washington, all voters can cast ballots for candidates. The top two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election.

Voters rejected a similar measure in 2008.

Under Oregon's century-old primary system, only registered Democrats can choose Democratic candidates, and registered Republicans choose Republican candidates. The parties can choose to open their primaries to voters not affiliated with a party, but each has done so only twice in 25 years.

Advocates have submitted 83,000 signatures so far for a measure to designate the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to regulate and tax cultivation of marijuana and hemp. They have said they will surpass the 87,213 mark by the deadline.

The measure, sponsored by Anthony Johnson of Portland, is modeled on successful 2012 measures in Colorado and Washington.

A competing pair of measures will not qualify for the ballot. Their chief sponsor, Paul Stanford of Portland, said last week his efforts will fall short at 50,000 each.

One measure was a proposed constitutional amendment to remove all criminal penalties, except those affecting children and public safety. That one would have required 116,284 signatures to qualify.

The other would have set up a new state commission to regulate cultivation and sale of marijuana.

Labor problems plagued Stanford's measures. A dispute over late paychecks led to a strike by petition signature-gatherers.

Oregon, by legislative action in 1973, was the first state to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. Voters in 1998 rejected a legislative attempt to recriminalize it, and approved medicinal use of marijuana.

But voters rejected two recent measures. A 2010 measure would have licensed dispensaries for medical marijuana; lawmakers approved a different version in 2013. A 2012 measure would have allowed both homegrown cultivation and state licensing for commercial sales.

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