Recreational Marijuana

Debra Grasello, co-owner of Oregon Microgrowers Guild in Eugene, holds an ounce of marijuana over a a pile weighing 8 ozs. Beginning July 1, it will be legal to have an once in your possession in public and 8 ounces in your home in Oregon. (Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard)
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A marijuana primer: Do's, Don'ts & Maybes

Jun 29, 2015


Register Guard -   Marijuana.

Mary Jane.
Starting Wednesday, the plant will have a new descriptor to go along with its many names: Legal.
Adults 21 years and older in Oregon will be able lawfully to possess and use marijuana for recreational purposes. Oregon voters set the date when they approved Measure 91 back in November.
But there still are many unknowns about the new law.
The measure charges the Oregon Liquor Control Commission with establishing a system under which recreational marijuana can be legally grown, processed and sold to consumers. State lawmakers are in the midst of approving legislation, and the commission drafting administrative rules, to fill in many of those details.
The final system, especially for growing and selling the marijuana commercially, will not be clarified for some time. Meanwhile, the OLCC and other public agencies have urged adults to inform themselves about the new law before they light up.
Commission spokesman Tom Towslee said the agency has received many questions about the new law. It launched a public education campaign, which includes a website at .
“People are very concerned about staying within the letter of the law,” Towslee said. “They just want to know what the rules are.”
Here’s a rundown:
Question: How much can I possess?
Answer: The law says you can grow up to four plants and possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana per individual household. The law doesn’t allow you to multiple those amounts by the number of adults 21 years and older in your household. You can be charged with a crime for going over these limits.
Adults also can possess up to 1 pound of solid edibles; 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquid; and 1 ounce of marijuana extract.
Question: I want to try to use or grow marijuana. Where can I get it?
Answer: You remember that popular advertising slogan, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?” The same concept applies.
Under the law, adults can’t legally sell or buy recreational marijuana until licensed retailers open. That’s likely to happen sometime next year, although state lawmakers are pushing through a bill to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot starting Oct. 1. So legally, you can’t buy recreational pot anywhere, not just yet.
However, the law says residents can share or give away recreational marijuana, or receive it as a gift, starting Wednesday.
The OLCC isn’t giving advice on where residents can obtain marijuana, and regulators and law enforcement don’t seem to care how you get it as long as no money changes hands.
An OLCC spokesman jokingly described the stance as the “immaculate conception” provision of the new law.
Question: The sale of recreational marijuana is legal in Washington state. What stops me from buying it up north, bringing it to Oregon and using it here?
Answer: How about federal law?
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice updated its policy with the so-called Cole memorandum to take a mostly hands-off approach to federal enforcement in states that legalized marijuana as long as the state has strong controls and enforcement.
But one area the agency said will remain a priority of federal prosecutors is preventing marijuana from being taken “from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states.” As a result, the OLCC is advising Oregonians against crossing into the Evergreen State to buy marijuana.
“We take a very strict interpretation of that, even though I don’t think the Cole memorandum considered contiguous states,” Towslee said.
While it’s highly doubtful law enforcement would stop you at the border for crossing state lines with marijuana bought in Washington, it still appears the importation would violate federal law. Portland police have said the issue isn’t on their radar.
Question: Can I use marijuana sitting at a bar, park or bus stop, or in some other public spot?
The law defines public place as a location “the general public has access to” that includes hallways, lobbies, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds and public transit stations and buses.
The OLCC says a good rule of thumb to follow is if someone outside your home can see you, you’re probably in public for the purposes of the law. So you might think twice about having a smoke on your front porch.
A violation is a Class B noncriminal violation that carries a presumptive fine of $260.
Eugene police Lt. Jennifer Bills has said the department isn’t going to give residents a warning period, and that pleading ignorance to the law isn’t going to automatically save you from a citation by a police officer.
Question: Could I get into trouble if the smoke from the joint I’m smoking in my private backyard upsets a neighbor?
Answer: No, at least not in Eugene. Residents outside Lane County’s largest city would need to check with their local government to find out what their regulations are.
“We would encourage people to be aware and courteous of their neighbors,” said Laura Hammond, spokeswoman for the department that enforces Eugene’s city code. “If you smell marijuana smoke from a neighbor’s home or yard, we’d encourage folks to discuss that with their neighbors.
“It’s not really a law enforcement or code compliance issue.”
Neighbors, however, can lodge a complaint if the smell is from growing marijuana plants, as that is a code compliance issue, she said.
Question: Can an employer still fire me or not hire me for failing a drug test now that my use of marijuana is legal under state law?
Answer: Yes. The new law has no effect on employers’ zero-­tolerance drug policies, said Andrew Lewis, a Eugene attorney specializing in employment law. Employees would have no legal recourse to challenge their firing unless their employer doesn’t have policies prohibiting drug use at the time they are terminated, he said.
Earlier this month, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld the termination of an employee who failed a random drug test that detected his off-hours use of medical marijuana.
The employee argued his firing was unlawful because marijuana use is permitted under state law. But the justices held the employee wasn’t protected under the state’s “lawful activities” statute because it applies to activities that are legal under both state and federal law.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
“While there is no similar statue under Oregon or Washington law, the case is an important indicator of judicial attitudes about the use of marijuana in accordance with state law,” wrote Kyle Abraham, an associate lawyer for the Portland law firm Barran Liebman Attorneys, in a recent online posting.
Lewis said some employers are rethinking their drug-free policies to still be able to hire the best people from a candidate pool, particularly in the construction and manufacturing industries.
“We do see employers who are thinking about modifying their policies to accommodate the reality that some applicants and employees will use marijuana off-hours,” he said.
Question: Are there places you can’t take marijuana even with the legal limit on personal possession?
Answer: Towslee acknowledges this question is a gray area and boils down to common sense.
The law doesn’t govern specifically where you can and can’t keep pot in you pocket — and remember, use of marijuana in public is strictly prohibited — but Towslee questions why anyone would take it into a school, as one example.
“We certainly try to stress personal responsibility here, doing the right the thing (and) not trying to push the limit of the law just for the sake of doing it,” he said.
Answer: Again, another personal judgement. The law allows it, but it’s up to the individual to decide how comfortable they are doing it.
Question: I’m a renter. Can I use or grow marijuana?
Answer: Check your rental agreement and talk to your landlord beforehand, said Jim Straub, owner of Eugene-based Acorn Property Management and legislative director for the Oregon Rental Housing Association.
Landlords are within their rights to bar renters from using or growing marijuana, just as they can prohibit them from smoking tobacco or having pets or water beds.
Straub said some landlords may be caught off guard by the new law, but with proper notice they can legally add provisions to their rental contracts to address the new law.
Landlords must give 30 days of notice to amend a monthly rental contract, and they can’t change a fixed-term lease until the term expires or is up for renewal.
“The takeaway from this is renting, whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, is a business relationship, and it’s best to ask prior to engaging in an activity.”

“If you choose to consume, please do so responsibly.” 

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