Former Cop Gives Voice to Legalization Campaign in Oregon

The push to legalize marijuana in Oregon has a new face, and it’s a man who spent 33 years working as a cop.

Pete TutmarkPete Tutmark, a former patrol sergeant and sheriff’s deputy in Oregon, appears in a new ad campaign designed to promote legalization. Tutmark notes that the drug enforcement system in America is “broken” and prevents cops from solving real crimes.

“Last year in Oregon, there were 13,000 citations and arrests for marijuana,” Tutmark says in the ad. “That takes time, time better spent solving murders, rape cases, finding missing children. The system’s broken.”

The ad urges voters to approve Measure 91 in November, a proposal that would make possession, sale, and cultivation of cannabis legal in the state.

The ad campaign started airing Oct. 1 on several local news broadcasts across the state. It’s the first television ad taken out by Yes on 91, the group pushing for legalization.

Tutmark isn’t the only law enforcement official to give his backing to legal weed. Retired U.S. Attorney Kris Olson and retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Bill Riggs have also endorsed the campaign, as has Richard Harris, former director of Oregon’s Addiction and Mental Health Services.

Support for legalization has narrowed in recent weeks. That may be in part because pollsters typically switch their methodology shortly before each election, querying only “likely” voters instead of all registered voters. Likely voters tend to be more conservative.

The most recent poll, from SurveyUSA, showed about 44 percent support legalization while 40 percent oppose it. That’s down from another poll in June that found 51 percent in support and 41 percent opposed.

Oregon MarijuanaMeasure 91 will appear on the ballot Nov. 4. The proposal would allow adults over 21 to possess up to eight ounces of pot and grow up to four plants at home.

Oregon voters rejected a similar proposal two years ago, at the same time Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis. The state’s liberal demographics make it an ideal place for legalization, but voters may be waiting until an ideal proposal comes along.

The opposition movement in the state is strong. Kevin Sabet, the most prominent opponent in the country, is touring the state on an anti-marijuana campaign. That effort ran into trouble earlier this year when it became clear tour organizers planned to use federal money to pay Sabet – a possible violation of federal election law.

About Brian Ellis

With 6 years' experience in business journalism, Brian is the person we turn to for anything related to the business of cannabis. His news coverage spans topics including marijuana business and finance. Brian's work features on, and