Oregon casino fails, pot measure unlikely to pass

Private backers of Portland-area project see effort rejected



PORTLAND — Oregon will not see a new casino open in Multnomah County, and a measure seeking to regulate marijuana like alcohol seemed unlikely to pass.

Voters on Tuesday rejected two ballot measures that would have allowed a nontribal casino in Wood Village, east of Portland.

Two Canadian companies and a pair of businessmen from Lake Oswego fought hard to persuade voters to approve the casino, but they abandoned their campaign when polls showed that voters were overwhelmingly opposed.

Tentatively titled “The Grange,” proponents pitched the casino idea as a revenue generator and jobs creator. Opponents rechristened the project “The Grunge,” arguing the operation would siphon money from tribal casinos and open the door to more casinos statewide.

No marijuana momentum

A measure seeking to regulate marijuana like alcohol appeared to be losing with about half of the vote received from Oregon’s three largest counties: Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington.

Three Western states have measures on the ballot that seek to regulate marijuana like alcohol, and Oregon’s long looked like the least likely to pass.

Plagued by doubts about the ballot’s sponsor, Oregon’s Measure 80 failed to gain traction in a state that approved marijuana for medical use in 1998. A similar — albeit less-liberating measure — passed in Washington state and polled well in Colorado.

Tuesday’s vote gave Oregonians a chance to weigh in on one of the most lax proposals for legalizing pot, one they seemed to soundly reject.

Supporters said legalized marijuana would generate millions for the state in new taxes while cutting down on criminal activity. Opponents questioned whether the measure would increase drug use and crime.

Approval of regulated marijuana would likely trigger a showdown with the federal government, which prohibits the use or possession of marijuana.

It was one of four measures that began with high hopes but fizzled when pushback coalesced from forces inside and outside Salem.

Long odds for gillnet ban

A third effort, this one aimed at prohibiting gillnets for nontribal commercial fishermen on the Columbia River, faced an uphill climb after the recreational fishing groups who supported it reversed their position.

After the measure qualified for the ballot, the proponents got behind a compromise pushed by Gov. John Kitzhaber that would prohibit gillnets only on the main stem of the Columbia.

Gillnets snag salmon by the gills and are the only legal way to fish commercially on the Columbia. Gillnet critics say they’re harmful to endangered fish. Commercial fishermen argue that opposition to gillnets is driven by sport fishers who want to catch more fish.