AP top Oregon story of 2014: Legal marijuana – KOIN.com
Legalization of recreational marijuana was voted the top Oregon news story of 2014 in the annual Associated Press poll of editors and news directors in the state.
Sixteen years after voters approved medical marijuana for people with specific illnesses and conditions, they decided to just say, “Yes!” to letting anyone old enough to drink take a toke, as long as it isn’t in public.
The troubles with Cover Oregon — the top story of 2013 — was second, as the state decided to ditch its home-grown website for enrolling in health insurance plans and switch to the federal exchange portal. Meanwhile, Oregon and Oracle Corp. sued each other over who was to blame for the debacle.
A federal court ruling tossing out Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage was No. 3. The court said the ban approved by voters in 2004 was unconstitutional. With the decision, same-sex marriages began in the state.
Here are the Top 10 Oregon news stories in 2014:
MARIJUANA LEGALIZED: One year after the Legislature authorized dispensaries to sell medical marijuana, voters went a step farther and made pot legal for anyone over 21 to grow, buy and possess. Oregon joined Colorado, Washington state and Alaska in turning their backs on federal prohibitions against the drug. People can grow their own and possess pot legally as of July 1, but commercial sales must wait for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to develop rules and regulations. That is not likely until well into 2016. The measure prohibits anyone but the state from imposing taxes, but several cities and counties are hoping to get in on the gravy train.
COVER OREGON: With its home-grown portal useless, the state adopted a manual process, enrolling about 77,000 people in the first full year of health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Tens of thousands more enrolled in Medicaid. In April, after numerous failed attempts to launch the Cover Oregon exchange, Oregon ditched the portal built with Oracle Inc. technology and switched to the federal website, HealthCare.gov. The state hoped to salvage parts of the Oracle technology to build its Medicaid enrollment site, but officials later decided against working with Oracle. The state now plans to adopt technology from Kentucky for Medicaid enrollments.
GAY MARRIAGE: Oregon became the 18th state to recognize same-sex marriages after a federal judge struck down its 2004 voter-approved ban as unconstitutional. Almost immediately, county clerks started performing marriage ceremonies. The state had refused to defend the ban put before voters after Multnomah County started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in 2003. The judge refused to allow the National Organization for Marriage to intervene. The U.S. Supreme Court later refused to issue a stay of the ruling sought by gay marriage opponents.
CYLVIA HAYES: Embarrassing revelations mounted about Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancee in the weeks before the election. First it was allegations she used Kitzhaber’s position to advance her consulting business. Kitzhaber has asked the state Ethics Commission to review those allegations. Then, Hayes acknowledged a sham marriage to an immigrant in 1997 so he could stay in the country, for which she was paid $5,000. She said she hid the marriage from Kitzhaber until it was unearthed by Willamette Week newspaper. Days later, she acknowledged that she had lived on a property in Washington state that was intended for a marijuana plantation.
SCHOOL SHOOTING: As the school year wound down at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, 15-year-old Jared Michael Padgett took an assault-style rifle to school, along with a pistol, nine loaded magazines and a big knife. In the boy’s locker room, he shot and killed fellow freshman Emilio Hoffman, 14, and wounded a teacher. After exchanging shots with police, Padgett went into a restroom and shot himself. People who knew Padgett said he was fascinated by guns and hoped for a military career. Police found no clear connection to explain why he shot Hoffman.
MARIOTA-HEISMAN: Junior quarterback Marcus Mariota became the University of Oregon’s first Heisman Trophy winner in a landslide victory. Mariota started the season as the favorite. He delivered a performance featuring pin-point passing and wide receiver speed, helping to send the Ducks to the Rose Bowl, where a victory will put them in the national championship game. His 38 touchdowns passing, 14 rushing and one receiving totaled 53, a Pac-12 record. He was later named AP college football player of the year.
KITZHABER RE-ELECTED: Kitzhaber cruised to an easy victory over Republican state Rep. Dennis Richardson. Kitzhaber managed to deflect Richardson’s efforts to accuse him of corruption over Hayes’ consulting business and her role in his administration. Voters did not hold Kitzhaber responsible for the collapse of the state’s system for signing up people for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, despite the GOP trying to make it an issue.
DEATH WITH DIGNITY: Diagnosed with brain cancer and given months to live, Brittany Maynard, 29, moved from California to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s death with dignity law. Her campaign to raise awareness about the issue landed her on the cover of People magazine and put a face on the issue. On Nov. 1, she kept her promise to swallow lethal drugs and end her life. In a video released later, she urged states to pass laws that allow people with terminal illnesses to end their lives on their own terms.
CHRISTMAS TREE BOMBER: A Somali American was sentence to 30 years in prison for plotting to detonate a truck bomb in downtown Portland while 10,000 were gathered in Pioneer Square for the annual lighting of the city Christmas tree. Defense lawyers argued Mohamed Mohamud, then 19 and a student at Oregon State University, was entrapped by the FBI. But a federal judge ruled that while the agents encouraged him to commit wrongdoing, and he lacked the means to build a bomb, he still had the will and the ambition to commit a violent act. According to testimony, Mohamud screamed, “God is great!” in Arabic when he tried to detonate the bomb. At sentencing, he told the judge that what he said and did were, “terrible.”
GMO LABELING: Opponents of genetically modified crops seemed to be on a roll as voters in two southern Oregon counties approved local bans in May. But a statewide ballot measure requiring foods to carry labels disclosing genetically modified ingredients, such as corn and sugar beets, failed narrowly after supporters were outspent. Support in big cities like Portland was not enough to overcome opposition in rural areas.