Legal marijuana, gillnet fishing, casinos get decided today in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Three Western states have measures on the ballot that seek to regulate marijuana like alcohol, and it looks like Oregon's is 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. Similar albeit less-liberating measures have polled well in Colorado and Washington state.

Tuesday's vote gives Oregonians a chance to weigh in on one of the most lax proposals for legalizing pot.

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.

A pair of measures that would have allowed a nontribal casino in Wood Village, east of Portland, were also on the ballot.

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.

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.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.