Legal Marijuana Sales Begin in Oregon Tomorrow

Before state-licensed shops open next year, medical dispensaries get to serve recreational consumers.


Jacob Sullum

Less than a year ago, Oregon voters approved Measure 91, which legalized marijuana for recreational use. Since July 1, Oregonians who are 21 or older have been allowed to possess up to an ounce in public and grow up to four plants at home. Tomorrow cannabis consumers without green thumbs (or friends who have them) will have another option: They can legally buy marijuana at more than 200 locations.

In the other states that have legalized marijuana, consumers have had to wait significantly longer than 11 months for legal recreational sales. It took 14 months in Colorado and 20 months in Washington. Alaskans, who approved a legalization measure the same day Oregonians did, probably will not see legal recreational sales until late 2016, since the Alaska Marijuana Control Board is still working on regulations for growers and retailers. Oregon got a faster start because legislators decided to let medical marijuana dispensaries serve recreational customers before the state begins licensing new pot stores next year.

As in Colorado and Washington, those state-licensed outlets will not operate throughout the state. The Oregonian reports that "governments in six eastern Oregon counties—plus 13 cities in those counties—have voted to ban medical and recreational marijuana sales, production or processing." Measure 91 said local governments seeking to exclude marijuana businesses had to let voters decide the issue. But in response to complaints from local officials, who argued that the continued federal prohibition of marijuana made that requirement legally questionable, the state legislature decided to allow bans without a plebiscite in jurisdictions where at least 55 percent of voters opposed Measure 91. That dispensation applies to 15 counties in eastern Oregon.


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  1. Am I seriously the only one who finds all this regulation convoluted and therefore unacceptable?

    1. You think people should be allowed to engage in activities without asking permission and obeying orders? Anarchist! Heretic!

    2. Don’t let the perfect hold down the good and rape it to death.

    3. The grocers are gearing up to end the state liquor monopoly so this is a chance for the state liquor agency to justify its existence.

  2. I don’t much like pot, so I’m not much exercised over this, but if I were a passionate partisan I think I’d write my State’s proposition in a way that gave the would-be regulators a deadline and limits. Give them six months in which to cobble together some basic regulations, and some broad limits to how constricting they can make them, with the alternative being anyone can grow marijuana anywhere they an grow, say, daffodils, can sell it just the same way they can sell any other kind of garden produce, and the state can only try to collect state sales tax. I bet that regulations about how many plants, what level of tax, and so on would just FLY through committee.

  3. “That dispensation applies to 15 counties in eastern Oregon.”

    There’s only 13 counties in eastern Oregon.

    I pass some time out there, and almost everyone smokes dope. At the same time, the majority–easily–opposed legalisation, generally with an argument along the lines of, “Well, sure we can do it and it’s okay, but you let those hippies and them nigras start smoking reefer and before you know it we’ll have chaos and anarchy.” And they generally don’t worry about how prohibition affects them personally, as they tend to be insulated by the unshakable belief that the authorities would never enforce the law against them, confident that the police must understand that their cannabis use is not the socially destructive sort that the laws were made to punish.

    I’ve met a very small set of people there that favoured gun control, all of them, of course, being avid firearms users. They were the same–guns should be restricted because we can’t trust those people with them, and I don’t worry how it will affect me because surely the authorities would never condescend to enforce the law against me, since I’m not some kind of pinko hippie saboteur.

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