Last Update: February 5, 2014
Oregon lawmakers convene short session
On February 3, Oregon lawmakers convened to begin the 2014 short session in Salem. With adjournment scheduled for March 9, lawmakers have little time to address big issues.
One of the major issues up for consideration is legalizing marijuana for adults and regulating it like alcohol. There is talk of passing a legislative referral to November’s ballot, giving voters the opportunity to enact a marijuana regulation and taxation bill crafted by the legislature. Gov. John Kitzhaber stated that “the Legislature would be the right place to craft [a marijuana taxation and regulation ballot measure]” to ensure the program is properly regulated.
If you’re a resident of Oregon, please ask your lawmakers to end the state’s costly prohibition of marijuana.
Oregonians last had the opportunity to vote to end marijuana prohibition in 2012. Unfortunately, the measure was defeated 53% to 47%, but considering a May 2013 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll found 63% support for taxing, regulating, and legalizing marijuana, advocates are hopeful 2014 could be the year for victory.
Success in Salem in 2013
The 2013 session was quite a successful one for marijuana policy advocates in Salem. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law a bill adding PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program. He also signed two bills into law that reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana: one reduces the maximum sentences for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana, and the other eliminates the practice of suspending driving privileges for someone found in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
In addition to these proposals, local advocates were able to pass HB 3460 — a bill to allow medical marijuana facilities to obtain marijuana and immature marijuana plants from and sell marijuana to medical marijuana patients and their designated primary caregivers. Gov. Kitzhaber signed HB 3460 on August 14, making Oregon the 14th state (plus D.C.) to create a regulated medical marijuana dispensary program. Many thanks go to Sam Chapman and Oregonians for Medical Rights who orchestrated the lobbying effort to see this bill through.
Marijuana laws in Oregon
Arrests for marijuana possession are still happening across the state, despite the fact that Oregon decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana over 40 years ago. Unfortunately, these arrests disproportionately affect minority communities. According to the ACLU, African Americans in Oregon are more than twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors. Additionally, the cost of a marijuana possession citation is excessive. Currently, an individual who possesses up to an ounce of marijuana could be levied with a typical fine of $650! In comparison, in 2008, Massachusetts’ voters chose to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by replacing their state's past criminal penalties with a $100 civil fine. For the same offense, Oregon penalizes its residents more than six times as harshly as Massachusetts.
For more information on the current legal status of marijuana, as well as information on use rates, arrests, and other helpful information, please see Marijuana In Oregon, authored by Dr. Jon Gettman, Ph.D.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and all of our allies. If you have any questions concerning the status of marijuana policy reform in Oregon, you can contact MPP at email@example.com. Also, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service today.