SALEM — Oregonians over the age of 21 would be allowed purchase recreational marijuana at existing medical marijuana dispensaries starting Oct. 1, under a bill approved this morning by a key legislative committee.

Recreational users would be limited to buying one-quarter ounce of dried marijuana and four immature plants from the dispensaries, under Senate Bill 460. They couldn’t purchase marijuana-infused oils or edible products. Until the state is able to get the new sales taxation system up and running, recreational sales will be untaxed.

The question of when to start recreational sales was one of last decisions before the joint House and Senate committee tasked with implementing Measure 91, the legalization initiative passed by voters last November.

Dispensary owners and others pushed for a start as early as July 1, when recreational marijuana possession and growing officially becomes legal. They argued that it doesn’t make sense to have nowhere for recreational users to buy a legal product, and that immediate sales would help stimulate demand when many dispensaries are struggling to turn a profit.

But an early start is firmly opposed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which argued the full recreational marijuana system should be up and running first. They have targeted a start to recreational sales in mid-2016.

Several lawmakers on the joint committee expressed disappointment this morning that they weren’t able to start sales on July 1 or shortly thereafter. But an Oct. 1 start was more palatable to the rest of the Legislature, they said.

Sen. Ginny Burdick, a Portland Democrat, said that the proposal “is probably a middle ground.”

“It’s something for us to get a legal (sales) channel” going, she added.

Sen. Floyd Prozanski, a Eugene Democrat, said he was a “firm believer in an on-time start.”

“We’re setting up a system where we’ll have a three-month period…with illegal sales for people who can legally posses recreational” marijuana.

SB 460 now heads to the Senate floor.

Cities and counties that voted more than 55 percent against legalizing marijuana would still be allowed to ban medical dispensaries completely through a vote of their elected officials under a separate bill, which is headed for approval.

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