Legalization of marijuana in Oregon, United States 2017.
The Junky G Articles.
Earlier this year, Oregon joined Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and the District of Columbia in legalizing the use of recreational cannabis.
Residents in the state who are over 21 can now legally transport, share, and gift up to one ounce of marijuana in public places, keeping up to 8 ounces within their homes.
They also have the right to grow up to 4 cannabis plants on their property, as long as they are kept out of public view.
The one snag in the system is that Oregon residents are not legally allowed to buy or sell marijuana until licensed retailers set up shop in late 2017. This time delay is designed to give lawmakers time to set up regulatory parameters on the industry. Transportation out of state is also not allowed, even to neighboring Washington where recreational marijuana is also legalized, due to restrictive federal regulations.
Though they are among the first five states to legalize recreational marijuana, the struggle for these rights has been a long one for the residents of Oregon.
The state has a long history with marijuana, dating all the way back to 11973, when Oregon became the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, turning it from a jailable offense to something more akin to a traffic violation.
As early as 1998, marijuana was approved by voters in Oregon for medical use. Licensed patients suffering from a number of different conditions shown to be improved by the use of marijuana were permitted under new laws to grow their own marijuana or have someone else grow it for them. They were further permitted to maintain up to three mature cannabis plants, four immature plants, and possess up to one ounce of marijuana at any given time.
This was a huge step forward at the time and garnered national attention for Oregon's progressive policies. Despite this early start, though, Oregon voters rejected retail availability and legalization of recreational marijuana in referendums in 2004, 2010, and 2012 before finally approving it in 2014.
Despite the general atmosphere of victory after a hard-fought battle in Oregon, not everyone was pleased with the outcome.
The city of Coos Bay has been against marijuana legalization ever since it was first introduced as a medicinal resource.
Coos Bay imposed a year-long ban on all marijuana sales when medical marijuana was first legalized in the state of Oregon, citing that they needed time to update their zoning laws to allow space for dispensaries.
No other Oregon city faced this problem, opting instead to simply allow dispensaries to operate in any designated retail space. Now that recreational marijuana has been legalized, Coos Bay is once again scrambling for a way to ban the use of the substance within city limits. A statement on the reason for seeking the ban comes from the Coos Bay city manager, Rodger Craddock, who has this to say: "While the current administration in Washington, D.C. has chosen not to enforce federal law in regards to marijuana in our state, that could change in the future with the change of future administrations.
Should a future federal administration want to enforce that, the City could be in jeopardy and lose our ability to get federal funds."
Retroactive Expungement for Marijuana Offenses
Under American law, people who have been convicted of a particular crime are not automatically pardoned and released if the crime that they had been convicted of, illegal at the time, suddenly becomes legalized.
This has led to a lot of frustration in states like Colorado, Alaska and Washington, where thousands of people remain in jail for an offense that is now considered perfectly legal, and thousands more face job and housing discrimination as a result of their criminal record.
Oregon has a unique opportunity to prevent these problems by adding additional language to their recreational marijuana bill that would allow for the release and expungement of criminal record for thousands of criminals convicted of marijuana possession or distribution.
This would be a weight off the shoulders of the criminal justice situation, a far lesser burden on taxpayers, and a great improvement in the quality of life for those whom it affects.
The District of Columbia included a similar provision in its legalization bill, but so far many of the other states with legal access to recreational marijuana have missed this opportunity.
Marijuana Tourism in Oregon
Since legalization, Oregon has been a popular tourist destination for recreational marijuana users from across the country.
Several companies have even cropped up catering to this interest by offering customized "weed tours" of the area.
As the Oregon market quickly became saturated with marijuana dispensaries, creative entrepreneurs began to set their sights on a different demographic, opening upscale shops in the middle of Oregon's wine country designed to draw in tourists.
To many of these entrepreneurs, fine wine and fine cannabis go hand in hand. After all, wine tastings have become a fun and educational experience for adults, and so too can cannabis testing.
Customers may even find themselves asking about the growing conditions, from soil type to sun exposure, just as one might enquire about the grapes of a particular vintage.
Now legal, marijuana shops have the freedom to turn their wares into a highly valuable object that comes in a range of different qualities, paving the way for terest by offering customized "weed tdesigner" cannabis strains.
In short, the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of Oregon is the light at the end of the tunnel for many, but not all, of the state's residents.
The new legislation has attracted an abundance of tourism to the area and is rapidly transforming the entire marijuana industry.
With a little more work, it could also do wonders for the criminal justice system, releasing thousands of prisoners who have committed offenses that are now considered to be legal. In a few more years, we may even see a significant shift in Oregon's economy due to the legalization of marijuana dispensaries and boutique shops.
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