Measure 91, a voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana in Oregon, takes effect July 1st and will immediately allow for adult possession and home cultivation. The law permits adults 21 and older to grow four plants and keep eight ounces at home, and possess one ounce in public. Public consumption and sales will continue to remain illegal. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the agency charged with regulating marijuana in the state, will begin to accept applications for cultivation, processing, testing, and retail business licenses starting January 4th, 2016, and businesses are expected to be operational later the same year. More time was allotted to create specific regulations for concentrates to ensure the best possible public safety outcome, so these products will likely not be available immediately when stores open.
"Expending law enforcement resources by going after nonviolent marijuana users is a shameful waste of time and tax dollars, and a distraction from what's really plaguing neighborhoods," said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a criminal justice group opposed to the drug war. "Cops in Oregon can now get into doing their jobs; protecting communities and helping victims of violent crimes get justice."
"Oregon still has more to do to ensure marijuana legalization is done properly; lawmakers and regulators are currently working to expunge the records of many non-violent marijuana offenders as well as develop proper regulations for taxes, concentrates, and labeling for consumer and child protection," said Inge Fryklund, former prosecutor, Oregon resident, and board member LEAP. "We must promote honest and accurate public information along with sensible regulations. Oregon can and will be a model for future states looking to consider legalization in 2016 and beyond."
23 States and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of medical marijuana access, while 4 states have decided to legalize and regulate adult use generally. Oregon's regulatory model will be developed with Colorado and Washington's previous successes and failures in mind. Among the priorities of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission are preventing accidental ingestion by children with the use of appropriate childproof packaging and ensuring that extracts, concentrates, and edibles are carefully regulated, tested, and labeled.
Last Wednesday, June 24th, the Oregon House passed HB 3400, by a vote of 52-4, which addresses several points of contention. The bill created a tracking system for monitoring plants from seed to retail sales, which will help deter the drug from the illegal market and ensure accountability for businesses with inferior or contaminated products. It also permits jurisdictions where at least 55% of voters disapproved Measure 91 to opt out of issuing marijuana related business licenses. HB 3400 also expunges many marijuana-related offenses from criminal records, which will affect tens of thousands of Oregonians. The bill will now advance to the Senate.
Tuesday, June 30 at 2pm PT U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer will speak at the Portland ACLU for a legalization launch event to focus on the importance of marijuana legalization nationwide and what to expect for the future of the drug policy reform. For more information, contact Nicole L'Esperance. 202-225-4811 or Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anthony Johnson, Chief Petitioner for Measure 91, co-wrote the measure, spearheaded the campaign, and has been working on marijuana legalization for more than a decade. He can be reached at 503-752-3966 for comments.
LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have created underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction.