Oregon Passes Bill to Allow Recreational Marijuana Sales by Medical Dispensaries Starting Oct. 1

SALEM, OR — Lawmakers in both chambers of the Oregon legislature voted this week to approve a bill that will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell marijuana to anyone 21 or older starting October 1st.

The bill, Senate Bill 460, was passed 23-6 by the Senate on Tuesday, followed by a 40-19 approval in the House on Thursday.  On Wednesday, possession and limited cultivation of marijuana became legal for adults 21 and older, as 2014’s Measure 91 took effect.

Senate Bill 460 is intended to provide legal access for adults while the state crafts the rules and regulations for recreational marijuana sales to adults, which are expected to begin in the summer of 2015.

Meanwhile, the bill will allow adults 21 and older to purchase up to a quarter ounce of marijuana per day (dried flower) at existing registered medical marijuana dispensaries, even if they do not hold an Oregon medical marijuana card.  Adults will also be allowed to purchase cannabis seeds and up to four immature plants, but will not be allowed to purchase extracts, cannabis-infused edibles, or other products available to medical marijuana patients.

There will be no  taxes imposed on sales to non-medical marijuana customers, at least until the end of 2014.  Supporters of the bill say this “tax holiday” will help Oregon adults familiarize themselves with purchasing marijuana legally in a retail environment, instead of on the black market.

As of Wednesday, adults 21 or older in Oregon can lawfully possess up to eight ounces of marijuana in their home or up to one ounce of marijuana in public, and grow up to four plants per household.   However, the law gave the Oregon Liquor Control Commission until January 1, 2016 to implement regulations on production, processing, and commercial sale of marijuana.  The bill passed this week by the legislature will provide some legal access for adults until those regulations are complete.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has not yet indicated support of the bill, which now awaits her signature.  If signed by Gov. Brown, Oregon will have the quickest start of lawful marijuana sales out of the four states that have approved legalization, doing so less than a year after voters approved Measure 91.

A separate bill, House Bill 2041, would impose a 25% sales tax on the temporary recreational marijuana sales starting January 4, 2016.  That bill has also been approved by the legislature and awaits the Governor’s signature.  The temporary tax would automatically be repealed on December 31, 2016.

There are an estimated 270 registered medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating in Oregon.

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