Marijuana Legalization Starts Today in Oregon
Oregon residents successfully passed a measure to legalize marijuana in November 2014, but the measure is set to officially come into effect today.
A total of 847,865 Oregonians approved Measure 91, totaling over 56 percent of voters. Supported by New Approach Oregon, the measure is called The Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act. Starting on Wednesday, adults over 21 can possess as much as eight ounces of marijuana.
The legislation also permits users to grow up to four marijuana plants at home. Although regulation does not yet exist for commercial production and sales, state officials are in the process of crafting a framework. Washington and Colorado have already established regulatory systems, and Alaska is currently developing one as well. Oregon officials don’t expect stores to begin opening until fall 2016, so while marijuana will be legal starting today, there won’t be anywhere to buy the drug.
According to The Oregonian, the Portland chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws will give cannabis seeds away starting at midnight on July 1, after they gather together on Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. The group also plans to give away small amounts of marijuana.
Several lawyers have advised members of the public to be aware that although marijuana is legal in the state, it doesn’t mean that employees can come to work while high on the drug. As attorney Matthew C. Ellis put it, even if you consume off-hours, your employer can still fire you from the company.
By November 2016, five more states are expected to entertain ballot measures similar to the one in Oregon.
“As more and more Americans recognize that marijuana is safer than alcohol, more and more states will adopt laws that treat it that way,” Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “States like Oregon that have ended prohibition and are moving toward a system of regulated sales and cultivation are demonstrating that there is an alternative to prohibition. Regulating marijuana works. It is working in Colorado and Washington, it will work in Oregon and Alaska, and it won’t be long before other states follow suit.”
Not all legislators in Oregon support legalization, and some have banded together to introduce a bill which allows certain municipalities to ban marijuana retail stores. Republican state Sen. Ted Ferrioli cited a growing feeling of nervousness among the public as justification for allowing communities with 55 percent opposition to Measure 91 to take marijuana policy into their own hands.
This nervousness, according to Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, stems from the possibility of increased car accidents and child poisonings from edibles, like THC gummy bears.
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