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Legal Marijuana's Coming to Oregon — Now What?


OPB reporter Amelia Templeton walks through some of the surprising numbers behind Oregon pot. 


Oregon on Tuesday became the third state in the U.S. to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana. But like in Washington and Colorado before, that doesn’t mean that pot will be hitting store shelves immediately.

Here are answers to some of the questions around the status of marijuana in Oregon.

When’s the soonest I’ll be able to buy marijuana in Oregon?

Even though Oregon voters passed Measure 91, recreational marijuana is still illegal until July 1, 2015, when the law officially takes effect. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission can begin adopting rules and taking application forms for businesses before that date, but state law won’t technically change until then, according to Peter Zuckerman, communications director for the Yes on 91 campaign.

And while the law goes into effect July 1, sales won’t start then. OLCC has until the early half of 2016 to start issuing marijuana business licenses. Similar rollouts took place in Washington and Colorado after their laws changed in 2012. The first sales in Washington didn’t take place until earlier this year.

Can I drive to Washington to buy marijuana until Oregon stores open?

It’s still illegal to bring marijuana across the Washington-Oregon border. Because marijuana is an illegal substance federally, you cannot bring the drug across state borders.

How old must I be to legally buy or possess marijuana?

You have to be at least 21 years old to buy or use pot. OLCC and law enforcement plan to carry out stings to make sure pot shops are in compliance, according to the legal language of Measure 91.

Can I use marijuana wherever I want once it’s legal?

No, marijuana can’t be used in public. That includes marijuana use inside a vehicle.

Researchers with Rand Corp. found that the top 20 percent of heaviest users accounted for more than 80 percent of the demand for marijuana in Washington state. Rand estimates heavy users consumed about 1.6 grams a day.

Researchers with Rand Corp. found that the top 20 percent of heaviest users accounted for more than 80 percent of the demand for marijuana in Washington state. Rand estimates heavy users consumed about 1.6 grams a day.

John Rosman/OPB

As long as I use marijuana off the clock, my employer can’t fire me, right?

The law doesn’t change businesses’ drug-testing policies or mandate that employers allow their workers to use marijuana. If your job subjects you to random drug testing, you may want to steer clear of pot shops.

What will be the rules with using marijuana and driving?

It will remain illegal to use marijuana while driving or to drive while under the influence of marijuana.

How much pot can I legally carry?

You can have up to 1 ounce of marijuana on your person at any time.

At home, you’re allowed to have up to:

  • Four marijuana plants with up to 8 ounces of usable marijuana. The plants must be kept from public view.
  • 16 ounces of marijuana in solid form, such as edible products.
  • 72 ounces of marijuana in liquid form, such as oils.

I’m interested in getting into the marijuana business. How do I do that?

Measure 91 says that OLCC has to have application forms for production, processing and sales by Jan. 1, 2016. The application process fee will set you back $250 and the annual licensing fee will cost $1,000. You can read more about the qualifications and limits for business owners under Section 29 of Measure 91.

I’d like to work at a pot shop. What are the qualifications?

You have to be at least 21 years old to be a part of the business.

Can medical marijuana dispensaries sell recreational pot, too?

That will be an OLCC decision.

What about taxes?

The state will tax marijuana producers:

  • $35 per ounce of all marijuana flowers
  • $10 per ounce on all marijuana leaves
  • $5 per immature marijuana plant

How will Oregon use the tax money?

Forty percent of tax revenue will go toward the Common School Fund; 20 percent will be used for mental health, alcoholism and drug treatment services; 15 percent will go to Oregon State Police; and 10 percent will help local law enforcement regulate recreational marijuana in their cities.

What if my city passed a local tax ordinance on the sale of marijuana?

That’s tricky. Measure 91 states, “No county or city of this state shall impose any fee or tax, including occupation taxes, privilege taxes and inspection fees, in connection with the purchase, sale, production, processing, transportation, and delivery of marijuana items.” However, dozens of Oregon cities passed laws before the November election, hoping to be grandfathered in or win an eventual legal battle. It’s not clear yet which laws will take precedence, and it’s likely to be decided in the courts.

I don’t want recreational marijuana stores in my city. What can I do?

Citizens are allowed to petition for an election to prohibit pot shops in their city or county. However, people living in the city will still be allowed to possess marijuana.

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