In 2014, residents of Oregon voted on Measure 91, legislation that legalized the use of recreational marijuana in the state. It was the third time that Oregonians voted on the issue, but this time the push to legalize pot in the state proved successful, passing with 56 percent of the vote. Now, the law has begun to take effect, and business and consumers in the state are gearing up for this major landmark in the history of marijuana legalization.
When Measure 91 Takes Effect
On July 1, the initial phase of Measure 91 began, making it legal to grow and consume small amounts of marijuana at home. Starting October 1, 2015, medical marijuana dispensaries that are already licensed to operate in the state will be permitted to sell small quantities of marijuana to the general public. In 2016, the law will go into full swing. At that time, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission will begin to license people to grow large amounts of marijuana crops who want towholesale marijuana to retail businesses, and retailers who wish to sell to the public. Applications will be made available on January 4, 2016.
What's Legal Under Measure 91?
The legislation that will soon take effect in Oregon does allow for the legal recreational use of marijuana in the state, but it doesn't mean that people can use marijuana anytime, anywhere, and possess unlimited amounts of it. Here are some important facts to know about the law:
1. There Are Age Requirements. The law only allows people who are 21 years of age and older to legally vape, smoke, or consume marijuana. If you are under 21 years of age and are found with marijuana, you are guilty of illegal drug possession. It is also illegal for a dispensary to sell to anyone under 21 years of age. You can expect to be asked to show ID when you purchase legal marijuana.
2. There Are Limits to How Much Marijuana You Can Possess. An individual can keep up to 8 ounces of usable marijuana inside homes in Oregon. When you're out in public, you can only keep 1 ounce of usable marijuana in your possession.
3. You Can Grow, but There Are Limits. The law allows homeowners to grow up to 4 marijuana plants on their property; however, the plants must be grown in a discreet area out of public view, such as in an enclosed garden, in a backyard, or in an indoor hydroponic growing room or box.
4. Don't Use and Drive. Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana is dangerous and illegal. Penalties are similar to those for drunk driving.
5. You Can't Vape or Smoke Just Anywhere. The law only allows you to vape or smoke marijuana on your own property or on other private property. It is illegal to use marijuana in common public spaces.
6. You Have to Stay in Oregon With Your Weed. You cannot take marijuana across the state line. This is true even if you're traveling into Washington where recreational marijuana is also legalized.
7. Edibles Are Legal Within Limits. You can cook or bake with marijuana and consume it yourself or give marijuana edibles away as gifts; however, you cannot sell marijuana edibles for profit or purchase them legally in Oregon. The law will allow for the legal sale of edibles eventually, but this is not expected to happen until at least the second half of 2016.
8. Synthetic Marijuana Is Not Considered Marijuana. K2, spice, and other types of synthetic marijuana remain illegal in Oregon despite Measure 91. These substances and all other drugs that are currently considered illegal remain so.
9. Employers Can Still Prohibit Drug Use. Businesses in Oregon still have the right to refuse to hire people who use marijuana, and can require employees to undergo drug testing to obtain and maintain employment.
10. You Will Have to Pay a Tax to Buy Marijuana Legally. A state and local tax of 17 to 20 percent will be added to the cost of marijuana. The money will go to pay for a number of programs and to cover the cost of enforcing the new law.
Effects of the Law
Oregon is expecting to bring in roughly $10.7 million from 2015 to 2017 in the form of tax revenue due to the legalization of marijuana, but industry experts believe the legalization may hurt sales and revenues in Washington. One Washington dispensary owner in Vancouver, Washington, near the Oregon border, stated that approximately 60 percent of his customers were from the neighboring state. His business and many others are sure to see reductions in sales when the new law is completely implemented. Many Oregonian entrepreneurs are hoping to get involved in the industry, and reap the same types of financial benefits that growers and dispensary owners in Colorado and Washington have enjoyed.
While many people are speaking out in favor of Measure 91, the legislation does have its critics. Notably, several of the Republican presidential candidates have stated they are against moves to legalize marijuana. Chris Christie has even stated that he would move to force states to discontinue legal marijuana sales if he is elected.
Despite some outspoken critics, Measure 91 is definitely moving forward, and surveys show that the majority of Oregonians couldn't be happier.