Oregon to Begin Selling Recreational Marijuana in October

By McCarton Ackerman 07/29/15

Gov. Kate Brown signed a law that moved up the availability of marijuana for sale much sooner than expected.

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Recreational marijuana was expected to be available for sale in Oregon by the end of 2016, but the state is now way ahead of schedule and adults will be able to legally purchase it as of Oct. 1.

Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the law into effect on Tuesday, which allows existing medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling recreational marijuana. Anyone who is 21 and older can now buy up to one-fourth ounce of recreational marijuana per day at medical marijuana shops, in addition to seeds and up to four non-flowering plants. Because Oregon is a sales tax-free state, these items will also be somewhat cheaper until the 25% state tax on marijuana sales begins on Jan. 4.

Measure 91, which was approved by Oregon voters last November, went into effect on July 1. But without sales at brick-and-mortar stores, marijuana users were resigned to trying to obtain it from a friend, knowing they couldn’t be criminally prosecuted for possession.

“[It’s] a smart solution to a short-term logistical problem," said Kristen Grainger, Brown's spokeswoman, to Huffington Post. "Oregon’s new recreational marijuana law went into effect in July 2015, but Oregonians couldn’t lawfully buy it anywhere for another year or more. If marijuana is legal to use, it shouldn’t be illegal to buy."

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer also praised Brown’s new law as “a step forward. The state is doing a careful job of rolling this out in a thoughtful way, working to keep with the intent of the ballot measure.”

However, it’s still illegal to possess or consume marijuana in more than half the state. Government entities including the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service manage about 53% of the state. They follow the federal laws that still list marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it’s placed in the same category as heroin and LSD. First-time offenses for possession of marijuana can result in a $500 fine.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.