It’s Tuesday, June 30, which means when the clock strikes midnight,
Oregon marijuana prohibition is over. The legalization we passed last
November as Measure 91 takes effect on Wednesday, July 1.
It’s going to be a busy day for me. I have plenty of local and
national media interviews to respond to today, including a press
conference at ACLU of Oregon headquarters, a sit-down with a reporter
from the HBO series “VICE”, and an appearance on “Who’s the Ross?”, a
local late-night comedy program.
Most of the media inquiries are regarding our planned celebration tonight on the Burnside Bridge (#BurnsideBurn),
the central point in Portland that defines our east-west and
north-south borders. The spot is perfect for a post-legalization selfie
with the iconic neon “Portland Oregon” sign in the background.
Our new legalization law allows adults over 21 to share marijuana and
plants with one another, so long as there is no consideration (sales,
barter, trade, promises, anything) for the exchange. So we’ve encouraged
those adults who have an ounce or less to bring it and share with
others. We’ve also encouraged medical marijuana patients to bring
marijuana to share; they are still allowed to possess up to a pound and a
half of usable marijuana.
Consuming marijuana in public, however, is still illegal and subject
to a ticket from police. While we’re not encouraging anyone to break the
law, I won’t be surprised if some people do.
This is our way of solving what our legislators referred to as the
“immaculate conception” problem: marijuana becomes legal on July 1, but
there is no legal outlet yet for anyone to purchase it. Thus, our
legalization incentivizes a) buying marijuana from the black market, b)
getting a medical marijuana cardholding friend to divert marijuana from a
dispensary, or c) driving across the river to Vancouver, Washington’s,
legal pot shops and violating federal law bringing it across the border.
Our legislature is currently working on some bills to address
“immaculate conception”. One bill would open up the existing medical
marijuana dispensaries to all adults starting October 1. Adults would be
barred from purchasing edibles, tinctures, and extracts, though, and
would be limited to purchases of just one quarter ounce per day. The
good news is that Measure 91, our legalization initiative, doesn’t
authorize the taxation of marijuana until January 4, 2016, giving us
three months of tax-free marijuana sales.
Another couple of bills the legislature has cooked up would address
the tax issue. One would set a temporary recreational-only tax at the
medical marijuana dispensaries of 25 percent starting January 4, 2016,
and ending December 31, 2016. Another bill would set the permanent sales
tax at recreational stores, expected to open in late summer 2016, at 17
percent for the state and up to 3 percent local sales tax if approved
While I’m thrilled that I will go to sleep tonight in my own bed no
longer a criminal in my home state, there is still much work yet to be
done. We are just experiencing the end of our Civil War over marijuana
and now we begin our Reconstruction. Just like those early days of
emancipation, we are about to experience our Jim Crow phase of
We may be legal, but we’re still far from equal. Beer drinkers aren’t
fired from their jobs because a piss test proved they drank on the
weekend… but we are. Cigarette smokers aren’t losing parental rights or
facing child endangerment charges for using their drug around their
kids… but we are. Oxycontin users aren’t automatically banned from
purchasing firearms and ammunition… but we are. Folks who like the
occasional glass of wine with dinner aren’t automatically kicked off of
organ transplant recipient waiting lists… but we are. Cigar smokers
aren’t forced to smoke their preferred substance only outside of public
view… but we are. None of those drug users are afraid to travel anywhere
but Washington, Alaska, and Colorado… but we are.
So I’m excited for legalization night, but I’m not finished with
legalization. Not until we have the same rights as beer drinkers and
cigar smokers in all fifty states. Source: MarijuanaPolitics