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Pro-marijuana advocates raise $1 million in Oregon

By Courtney Sherwood

PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - Supporters of a recreational marijuana ballot initiative in Oregon have raised $1 million in their effort to legalize, regulate and tax use of the drug by adults, campaign finance documents showed on Monday.

The state said last month the initiative qualified for the November ballot, meaning Oregon could become only the third U.S. state after Colorado and Washington to allow recreational pot use. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

According to the campaign finance records released by the state, the largest donations by individuals came from out-of-state, with Philip Harvey, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian activist, giving $150,000 to the legalization effort, and New York fragrance heir Henry van Ameringen giving $100,000.

Former Progressive Insurance CEO Peter Lewis of Ohio contributed $96,000 before he died in November 2013. The only other donors to give more than $10,000 were advocacy groups which aim to change U.S. drug policy.

The group behind the legalization drive hopes to raise much more money before voters consider the issue, said Peter Zuckerman, spokesman for New Approach Oregon.

"Our aim is to raise as much as we need to win. How much hinges on factors we can't control and don't know at this point," Zuckerman said Monday.

He said the New Approach group plans to use videos, a social media push, and the endorsements of prominent Oregonians to build awareness and support over the coming months.

The measure will be Oregon voters' second chance in two years to make pot use legal, and is seen as more likely to pass than a failed effort two years ago.

Voters in Alaska will also decide on a recreational marijuana initiative in November, and a similar measure is being vetted by election officials in Washington, D.C.

(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Walsh)

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