Q&A: Everything you need to know about legal marijuana in Oregon – OregonLive.com
Oregon makes history next week, joining a handful of states where it’s legal to possess and grow marijuana.
Voters last fall said yes to a law that does two key things: Allows anyone 21 and older to possess and grow cannabis and directs the state to create a regulated industry that produces and sells marijuana for recreational use.
The personal possession and cultivation provisions of the new law take effect July 1. Oregonians can possess up to an ounce of cannabis away from home and up to 8 ounces at home. Every household can grow up to four marijuana plants.
The Oregon Legislature and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission are still crafting regulations that will shape the state’s regulated industry. Sales of marijuana aren’t expected to begin until late 2016, though lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell to recreational consumers this year.
Where can I buy marijuana?
A: Unless you’re an Oregon medical marijuana patient, there’s no way to legally buy marijuana. Legal marijuana sales aren’t expected to begin until late 2016.
So where can I get marijuana?
A: For now, you’ll have to depend on the generosity of friends. People with marijuana may give it away or share it, but they can’t sell it. You also can grow your own at home.
Where can I legally buy marijuana plants?
A: You’re out of luck. For now, only medical marijuana patients in Oregon can buy starter cannabis plants, known as clones, from dispensaries. Once the state’s retail industry is up and running, anyone 21 and older will be able to go into stores that stock clones and buy one.
Until then, the only way to legally obtain a starter plant is to ask someone who grows marijuana to give one to you.
How much marijuana can I have?
A: In addition to growing four plants and possessing up to 8 ounces at home or 1 ounce away from home, anyone 21 and older can possess up to 1 pound of solid edibles, or about 10 chocolate bars; 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquid, or a six-pack of 12-ounce sodas; and 1 ounce of marijuana extract.
What are marijuana-infused liquids and concentrates?
A: Marijuana comes in many forms, from sodas and pizzas to tinctures and lotions. Liquids include sodas and other beverages infused with marijuana. Extracts are a concentrated form of marijuana, such as butane hash oil. Extracts or concentrates are often consumed in portable device called vape pens.
How much is an ounce of marijuana?
A: Enough for about 28 joints. One ounce would also yield 57 modest half-gram joints.
Where can I legally consume marijuana?
A: At home, at your friend’s house or another private place.
Can I light up a joint at a park?
A: No. It’s illegal to consume in public places, which under state law includes hallways and lobbies of apartment buildings and hotels, on the street, in schools, amusement parks and public parks.
How about TriMet? Can I get stoned on the bus?
A: Not legally. Public transportation is considered a public place.
Can I smoke on my front porch?
A: Can your neighbors and passersby see you? If so, your front porch is probably a public place and public marijuana consumption is illegal. You’re better off moving to your back porch to consume.
My friends are visiting from out of state. Can they legally possess marijuana while they’re in Oregon?
A: Yes. The law applies to anyone 21 and older.
My neighbors smoke pot in their backyard and the smell drifts into my yard, where my kids are playing. Is there anything I can do?
A: The new law does not address marijuana-related odors, but local nuisance ordinances may apply.
In Portland, however, city codes don’t cover smoke from a lit device, including pipes, cigarettes or marijuana, said Mike Leifeld, the city’s enforcement program manager. City codes also don’t apply to smells from marijuana plants growing in someone’s yard, he said.
Leifeld said neighbors who can’t resolve the problem on their own may want to consider working with Resolutions Northwest, a neighborhood mediation program the city contracts with.
“It’s a productive way to talk to your neighbor,” he said. “If you are unable to talk with them directly, perhaps you want a skilled mediator, facilitator who can bring people to the table for the purpose of the common good.”
Public consumption is prohibited, but does that extend to vaping? My vape pen doesn’t smell so can I use it in public?
A: No. Public marijuana consumption is illegal even if you are using a discreet device like a vape pen.
Is it legal for people 21 and older to consume cannabis in front of kids?
A: Yes. Just like tobacco and alcohol, it’s legal to consume cannabis in front of minors.
Whether it’s a good idea is another issue, say state officials and the law’s authors.
“I would advise people not to use marijuana in front of minors just to be safe,” said Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner of Measure 91, the new marijuana law.
Do I have to notify anyone – the government or the police — that I am growing my own pot?
A: No. There are no reporting requirements for growing your own marijuana at home.
Can police ask me where I obtained my marijuana? Do I have to answer?
A: Police may ask you, but you do not have to tell them.
My spouse is a medical marijuana patient who grows 6 mature plants at our home. Can we grow an additional four plants under the new law?
A: We got different answers to this question from legal experts. Authors of the law say medical marijuana growers and patients may grow up to four additional plants in their household. However, Rob Bovett, legal counsel for the Association of Oregon Counties, called the situation legally “murky.” The Oregon Attorney General’s Office declined to give its opinion.
Johnson said he’d be hard pressed to come up with a crime that would apply to this scenario.
“It seems to me it’s pretty clear there’s no crime to be convicted of,” he said.
Portland attorney Leland Berger, who helped author the new law, said he advises people to label the plants that are covered under the state’s medical marijuana law so they can be distinguished from those covered by the new law.
The law says every household can grow four plants. Does that mean total plants or only mature ones?
A: Households are allowed to have four plants total. The new law does not distinguish between mature or immature plants.
Say I grow four plants and they produce more usable marijuana than the law allows me to possess. What should I do?
A: “Harvest carefully,” said Dave Kopilak, one of the authors of Measure 91.
If you live alone and harvest four plants at the same time, you may end up going over the 8-ounce possession limit. If you’ve got roommates, you may not have to worry since you can spread the usable marijuana across each member of the household.
If you exceed the possession limits, you have a couple of options: Consume it. Share with others who are 21 or older. Donate it to medical marijuana patients. Or destroy it.
Something else to consider: “If you are by yourself, why are you growing four plants?” Kopilak asks.
Can I be charged with a crime if I go over the possession limit?
A: Yes. Even with changes to the law, it’s still possible to be charged with a crime for marijuana possession.
Possession of more than 8 ounces but not more than 16 ounces is a class B violation, a non-criminal violation equivalent to a traffic ticket.
Possession of between 16 and 32 ounces is a class B misdemeanor.
Possession of more than 32 ounces is a class C felony, but under a bill moving through the Oregon Legislature, the charge would be reduced to a class A misdemeanor.
What if after I harvest but before the flowers and leaves dry, I have more than 8 ounces of marijuana in my possession? Is that illegal?
A: The law does not cover this stage of production, Kopilak said. Freshly harvested material isn’t a plant so it wouldn’t be covered in the 4-plant limit and wouldn’t be considered “usable marijuana,” which the law defines as dried leaves and flowers.
I’ve been convicted of a felony. Can I grow and possess marijuana?
I’m on probation. Can I possess and grow marijuana?
A: Depends on your probation agreement. Probation agreements typically require people to comply with all laws. Johnson said that’s been interpreted to include federal laws, which consider marijuana to be illegal.
If I have more than four plants in my household, can I be charged with a crime?
A: If you grow five to eight plants, you can be charged with a B misdemeanor. It’s a class C felony to grow nine or more plants.
Under the new law, can I go to prison for selling marijuana?
A: In theory, yes. Under the new law, unlawful delivery of marijuana is a felony, which is punishable with a prison sentence. However, under the bill being considered by the Oregon Legislature, unlawful delivery would be reduced to a class A misdemeanor, which carries a potential jail sentence of up to one year.
A person 21 or older who sells marijuana to a minor may be charged with a class C felony, punishable with up to five years in prison.
What is the penalty for public consumption?
A: Consuming marijuana in public is a class B violation, the equivalent to a traffic ticket. The punishment is a fine of up to $1,000.
I plan to grow cannabis at home. Are there any restrictions on growing in my yard?
A: According to the law, you may grow in your yard as long as the plant “cannot be readily seen by normal unaided vision from a public place.”
So if you plan to put a plant or two next to your tomatoes, make sure you have a fence that obscures the view.
“The idea is you are not supposed to let people see it,” said Kopilak.
Can I travel to Washington to buy marijuana from a regulated store and then return to Oregon with it?
A: The Oregon Liquor Control Commission advises Oregonians against traveling across state lines with cannabis. However, Portland police say people 21 and older who travel into the city with marijuana legally purchased in Washington are “not an issue” for the agency.
I live next to a school. Can I still grow marijuana? Can I grow it in my yard?
A: Currently, it’s illegal to grow within 1,000 feet of a school. However, under the bill moving through the Legislature, households will be able to cultivate within 1,000 feet of a school.
Johnson said people who grow near schools should “definitely take extreme precaution to ensure you are not in public view.”
What if I grow more than four plants within 1,000 feet of a school? Is there a stiffer punishment?
A: Yes. If you grow more than 5 plants and you’re not within 1,000 feet of a school, it’s a class B violation. If you grow more than five plants within 1,000 feet of a school, it’s a class A felony. A bill moving through the Legislature reduces the penalty to a class C felony.
Under the law, if my roommate has 3 plants and I have two, are we breaking the law?
A: Yes. Each household – not individual – may have up to four marijuana plants.
I live in Eastern Oregon, where marijuana shops are likely to face restrictions. Can my city restrict my ability to possess or grow marijuana at home?
A: No. Local governments cannot restrict your ability to possess or grow marijuana at home.
Can my landlord prohibit me for growing or possessing cannabis in my apartment?
A: Yes. Landlords may prohibit cannabis consumption and cultivation on their property. Those restrictions may be spelled out in your rental agreement, just like policies on pets and tobacco use.
I own rental property. Can I add a clause to the rental agreement prohibiting the use and cultivation of marijuana on my property?
How does the new law affect bicycling under the influence? Can I be charged for riding while high?
A: Yes. Riding your bike under the influence of intoxicants remains illegal.
— Noelle Crombie