Oregon is often at the forefront of progressive subjects, so it is no surprise that they have joined a handful of states legalizing possession and use of small amounts of marijuana. Under Measure 91, people in Oregon over the age of 21 can lawfully possess and use marijuana since July 1, 2015.
In addition, beginning on January 1, 2016, individuals have been able to apply for licenses to sell marijuana legally.
What Are the Current Marijuana Laws in Oregon?
- Possession: People in Oregon 21 years or older may have up to 8 ounces of marijuana at home or 1 ounce of marijuana while in public. Likewise, anyone 21 years or older can possess up to one pound of solid edibles with marijuana, 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids, and one ounce of marijuana extract.
- Usage: The usage of marijuana in public will be prohibited. People in Oregon can only use marijuana in the privacy of a home (be it their home or a friend’s). It will still be forbidden to be under the influence of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle. This will subject the driver to Oregon DUI laws. Note that Measure 91 makes it lawful for people in Oregon to smoke inside the state, regardless of whether the individual lives in or is a citizen of the state.
- Sale: The Oregon Liquor Control Commission began obtaining licenses for production beginning on January 4, 2016. The application fee is $250, and the annual licensing fee is $1,000. A map of registered marijuana dispensaries and license applications can be found on the Oregon government website.
- Cultivation: Each household is allowed four (4) plants for personal use. A household can include apartments and mobile homes.
- State borders: People cannot transport marijuana outside of or into Oregon. Federal law still prohibits the possession, usage, or sale of marijuana.
What Is Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)?
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) is a fairly new crime created to make drug-induced driving a separate and a more specific crime than the general “driving while intoxicated” regulations. Every state now has some form of DUID crimes on the books, but the ways of testing and penalties differ widely.
Critics of the regulations say that they are unfair because, unlike alcohol sobriety tests, many DUID tests do not test for actual intoxication from drugs but only for the existence of chemical changes (called metabolites) in the body that demonstrate drugs have been taken at some point in the past few days. In states that use such tests, one can use drugs on Friday, recover entirely from their effects, and yet still be arrested on Monday for DUID (despite being sober). However, proponents of the test say that the constant threat of being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs is an efficient way to restrain all drug use.
Does Oregon Have a Medical Marijuana Provision?
Yes, there is still a provision for people with specific medical conditions to register for medical marijuana. A valid medical marijuana card permits people to cultivate up to 6 mature or 18 immature plants instead of 4 plants as recreational users. In addition, an individual with a valid medical marijuana card may possess up to 24 ounces of marijuana as opposed to the 8-ounce limit for recreational users. To obtain a medical marijuana card, you must have a physician state that you have a qualifying condition and that marijuana may mitigate the condition’s symptoms.
For more details on obtaining a medical marijuana card, visit the Oregon Health Authority website.
Regardless of Oregon’s laws, it is essential to realize that medical marijuana is still not acknowledged by federal law, so even if your home state permits medical marijuana, federal agents can still arrest someone and subject them to penalties under federal law guidelines.
How Do State Laws Vary for Users of Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana laws can vary a lot by state. According to the medical conditions listed as qualifying under the law, they may differ in who they allow to use medical marijuana.
Even if an individual qualifies for medical marijuana use under the law, other limitations apply. For example, each state determines the amount of marijuana a qualifying person may possess. People may also be allowed to cultivate their marijuana plants for personal use in some circumstances.
State laws vary as to what illnesses are treatable with medical marijuana.
Common diseases that qualify are:
- Multiple Sclerosis (and other conditions affecting muscle spasticity);
- Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases;
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
- Parkinson’s Disease; and
Some states may have much longer lists of qualifying conditions than others. Other states might decide not to list conditions explicitly. It can sometimes be more general, such as conditions that cause nausea, pain, seizures, or terminal conditions.
Some states have legalized CBD oil, a non-psychoactive oil derived from either marijuana or hemp.
How Does Federal Marijuana Law Affect State Marijuana Laws?
When federal law and the state law conflict, federal law rules. Marijuana remains an illegal, Schedule I drug, according to federal law. Some states have changed their regulations to allow for marijuana use, regardless of the federal law. This means that federal authorities can, if they desire, prosecute marijuana sale, use, and possession even in states that have legalized it.
Under the Obama administration, the Cole Memorandum was issued, stating that the federal government would not interfere in states that had legalized marijuana, either medically or recreationally.
However, under the Trump Administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded this memorandum in January 2018. The federal government can step in and prosecute marijuana-related activities even in states that have legalized it.
Are There Any Limitations to a Medical Marijuana Defense?
If you are charged with possession of marijuana but claim that you need to use it medicinally because it aids your medical condition, stating that is it medical marijuana may be a defense, but this does have its limits:
Only certain states/jurisdictions have legalized medical marijuana. If you are in a state which has not, the defense doesn’t apply. Even if you live in a legal state, you can be prosecuted if you are arrested with marijuana in a state where it isn’t legal.
Even if you live in a state that has medical marijuana, states have a limit as to how much marijuana a patient can possess. Marijuana possession over the limit is not protected.
This defense only applies to possession. An individual charged with the distribution of marijuana can’t use a medical defense.
If you live in a state with legal medical marijuana, you are typically required to be on the registry of people with qualifying medical conditions. If you are not on the registry, you may be arrested and have to claim your defense in court.
Using marijuana medicinally may be a defense for a possession arrest, but it cannot be relied on entirely.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have been arrested in Oregon for a marijuana crime, it is essential to contact a Oregon drug lawyer immediately. The laws in Oregon range significantly, and for minimal differences in the amount of marijuana an individual possesses. Speaking with a lawyer familiar with Oregon’s marijuana laws is the best way to obtain the advice you’ll need to bypass a potential prison sentence.