A successful 2013 legislative session
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 create medical marijuana facilities that will be allowed to transfer usable marijuana and immature marijuana plants to medical marijuana patients and their designated primary caregivers — on to the governor. 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.
2012 election results
Measure 80 – a ballot measure that sought to repeal Oregon’s marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system of taxation and regulation – came up short on election night. The measure was defeated 53% to 47%. Although the measure didn’t pass, it received more support from Oregon voters than did Measure 74 in 2010, which sought to create a medical marijuana dispensary program and was only supported by 44.21% of the voters.
Now that Washington and Colorado have both passed initiatives to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, other states will surely follow suit. The Yes on Measure 80 campaign did a wonderful job highlighting the important need to change and laying the foundation for a constructive conversation.
Marijuana laws in Oregon
Although Oregon has decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, having replaced criminal penalties with a civil fine, the cost is still excessive for possession of a small amount of marijuana. 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.
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