I should really keep my mouth shut about this if I don’t want to see a massive influx of Green Rush immigrants driving up our housing costs. But I cannot, for I am so excited that in the wake of our legislature amending our marijuana legalization Measure 91, Oregon is left with the best marijuana legalization in the industrialized world!
1. The Country’s Greatest Legal Marijuana Possession Limits
As of July 1, Oregon’s Measure 91 allows adults 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana in public, a half-pound at home, a pound of marijuana-infused edibles, 4.5 pints of marijuana-infused liquids and an ounce of store-bought extracts.
Not “or” but “and”— we can possess all of that! (And I think that exclamation just won Conjunction Junction!)
2. There are No Marijuana Possession or Delivery Felonies for Adults
Not only are Oregon’s limits the greatest of any out of the four legal states, but Oregon also dropped the penalties for amounts over the limit.
You can have up to double the legal limit and only get a Class B Violation—a ticket and a fine with no criminal record for up to a pound of weed. You can have up to quadruple the legal limits—up to two pounds of weed—and it is only a Class B Misdemeanor. While Measure 91 made anything over quadruple the limit a Class C Felony, the legislature just reduced them all to Class A Misdemeanors.
Unlawful delivery of up to an ounce is a violation, over an ounce is a Class A Misdemeanor—meaning adults can’t get a felony for marijuana possession or delivery alone in Oregon, unless they try to take it out of Oregon to sell, that’s a Class C Felony.
3. No Marijuana Felonies for Minors Either
The de-penalization by the legislature also took up the case for people under 21, who now are only ticketed for possession of up to an ounce or face a Class B Misdemeanor for possession of up to a half-pound of pot, up to a pound of edibles and up to 4.5 pints of liquids. Any amounts over those are a Class A Misdemeanor.
However, we’re still protecting kids; adult (age 21+) delivery to minors (under 18) is still a Class C Felony and unlawful cultivation or delivery within 1,000 feet of a school is a still a Class A Felony.
4. We Can Grow Our Own Marijuana, Even Near Schools
It's unlawful cultivation near a school that’s a felony. The legislature explicitly protected our possession, processing and home grow rights near schools, which is four marijuana plants per household.
Colorado does allow six but only three may be mature, and Washington doesn’t allow any home-grow at all. Alaska kicks all our butts with 25 plants in a home, but that’s thanks to a 1975 Alaska Supreme Court decision related to constitutional privacy—not the 2014 legalization statute.
5. You Can Legally Have a Pound of Hash
Measure 91 originally defined marijuana extracts as those concentrates manufactured with butane, hexane, propane, isopropyl alcohol, ethanol or carbon dioxide, while remaining unclear about ice water hash, bubble hash, finger hash, rosin and kief. The legislature cleared that up, creating a new designation of “concentrates” that are products made by mechanical or non-hydrocarbon extraction techniques.
So butane, propane and hexane hash oils are still extracts with a one-ounce limit, but everything else (except CO2 extracts that also use high heat and pressure) are now concentrates with a one-pound possession limit, and no amount that can get you a felony.
6. Quickest to Recreational Marijuana Sales
There’s a bill on the governor’s desk, likely to be signed, that will allow many of our 250+ medical marijuana dispensaries to sell to all adults starting October 1. That will be three months from legality to sale. Colorado took 12 months, and Washington took 18 months.
However, they’ll only be selling up to a quarter ounce of flower, seedlings and seeds to non-medical customers—adults won’t be able to buy edibles, concentrates, liquids or extracts until the recreational stores open.
7. Lowest Marijuana Taxes
When those sales begin on October 1—thanks to a quirk in the law that doesn’t allow taxation until 2016—we will be selling marijuana to all adults tax-free for the last three months of 2015 (plan your holiday vacation now). Then, on January 4, 2016, a temporary 25 percent retail excise tax kicks in but only for recreational purchasers at medical stores, and no longer than December 31, 2016. Finally, when recreational retail stores open around August 2016, the state retail excise tax of 17 percent kicks in, with a potential additional three percent local sales tax.
Compare this to Colorado, where consumers pay 15 percent excise tax, 10 percent sales tax, additional city and county taxes ranging from one percent to five percent and a state sales tax of 2.9 percent. Or Washington, with (now) a 37 percent retail excise tax, plus state and local sales taxes ranging from 6.5 percent – 9.6 percent.
8. Lowest Marijuana Prices
PriceOfWeed.com and MJCharts.com consistently show Oregon to have the lowest reported prices for marijuana. Some medical dispensaries in Portland, which will be allowed to sell to all adults on October 1, are offering ounce specials as low as $79, and even the best quality super-bud rarely sells for over $225 an ounce.
9. Nobody Cares About Immature Marijuana Plants Anymore
The commercial marijuana regulations are yet to be written, but the legislature has forbidden any regulations that limit number, canopy or weight of immature marijuana plants. They also struck down the “12-inch rule” from 2005 that designated a "mature plant" as one that’s taller and/or wider than 12 inches, whether it is flowering or not.
10. Still the Best Medical Marijuana State in the U.S.
In addition to no more worries about counting immature plants, medical marijuana has been strengthened in Oregon. Veterans with PTSD now get their card for only $20 (compared to the $200 regular cost). Patients can no longer be denied organ transplants. “A degenerative or pervasive neurological condition” is now a qualifying condition for an OMMP Card—think ALS, MS, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s and many more. Hospice and palliative care centers may be designated as additional caregivers for dying and home-bound patients.
Best of all, no more “wink wink, nudge nudge” about only reimbursing medical growers for supplies and expenses; patients may now explicitly reimburse growers for all costs of producing marijuana, including labor.
Bonus: Even the Bad Stuff Ain’t That Bad
We didn’t get everything we wanted. Home hydrocarbon extraction is a felony and even mere possession of homemade extracts is a misdemeanor up to a quarter ounce and a felony over that. But that's due to too many news stories of idiots blasting BHO and blowing up apartments and motels and gas station bathrooms.
Medical marijuana grows now have record-keeping requirements, cultivation limits of 12 mature plants in residential zones (48 in non-residential zones) and possession limits of 6 pounds per indoor plant and 12 pounds per outdoor plant, but too many news stories of massive marijuana farms and city backyards with floodlights, barbed-wire, armed guards, pit bulls and a pervasive skunky smell brought that on.
The 15 eastern Oregon counties that voted greater than 55 percent against Measure 91 don’t have to follow the statewide law regarding voter-approval of license bans; they get to ban through a vote of their city council or county commission alone. But let’s face it, the voters in those counties would have voted to ban anyway.
All-in-all, Oregon is clearly the best place on the planet to be a marijuana consumer, processor, grower or retailer. Argh, wait, did I forget to mention we have the best quality and greatest selection of marijuana in the world here? Let the arguments in the comments begin!
(Photo Courtesy of UPI)
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