slides: Ten Things You Need to Know Now That Pot is Legal in Oregon
Thursday, November 06, 2014
People who freqently use the Schedule I drug may not be ready to abide by the law's 86 sections-worth of regulations, clarifications and restrictions that will determine the landscape of legalization.
The familiar long-held concerns for marijuana users are slowly being replaced with a new curiousity: what’s it going to be like now to be a pothead in Oregon?
Some marijuana users said they're celebrating the passage of Measure 91 under the misconception that it will eliminate marijuana and its metabolites from the list of substances employers test for on drug screens.
Other recreational users said they rejected the measure over concerns that legalization would lessen the quality-of-weed-life by driving their ‘local guy’ out of business or dramatically raising prices, like they did Washington.
However, marijuana users shouldn’t spike the bowl just yet: as seen in Washington, statewide legalization is a very slow process — even by stoners’ standards.
In fact, the new law prohibits anyone from extracting the chemical compounds found in marijuana without state approval - putting the proverbial clamps on any individuals making hashish, oils or pot-infused foods.
The law will also restrict the number of plants a person is allowed to grow and where they're allowed to grow them. In other words, forget about sprinkling handfuls of seeds in your garden out front - or anywhere they can be seen in public view.
Marijuana users won't be able to light-up legally until July 1, 2015, according to the full text of the measure.
Related Slideshow: Ten Things to Know About Marijuana Legalization in Oregon
Here are ten things you need to know now that pot is legal in Oregon.
1) Drug testing will continue
Despite marijuana being as legally permissible as a pint of beer, many of the largest employers of Oregonians will continue to include marijuana in their employee drug screens.
Fred Meyer, one of the largest employers across the state, said the company plans to continue drug testing its Oregon employees regardless of the new law.
Melinda Merrill, Fred Meyer communications director, said the company employs truck drivers, heavy equipment operators and other positions that require drug screening.
“We have to make our employees safe,” Merrill said.
Companies that employ heavy equipment operators are required to buy insurance. Companies that employ workers who operate machinery while simultaneously employing workers who do not are sometimes offered a lower monthly deductible if they test all of their employees across the board, as opposed to only testing a portion.
2) Your neighborhood dealer may be able to stay in business
The average price for marijuana in Oregon is among the lowest in the nation at sightly over $9 per gram, according to data collected by priceofweed.com.
The economy for recreational pot in Washington failed to gain the footing that was expected by some experts. The notion of Seattle being crowned as the new Amsterdam went up in smoke after consumers saw how the state’s taxes increased the price of marijuana - three joints can run a Washington customer $75, while a gram of the plant’s dried flowers cost around $30.
While the taxation in Oregon isn’t expected to bump prices that high, customers who have grown accustomed to the state’s high quality, low-price buds and hash oils may turn their noses up at even the slightest increase.
3) Taxes on pot will be different than Washington and Colorado laws
Marijuana sold from licensed vendors in Oregon will carry taxes of $35 per ounce on marijuana flowers, $10 per ounce on all marijuana leaves and trimmings and a $5 tax on all immature plants or clones. The tax rates will be reevaluated every two years and adjusted for inflation. The revenue will be allocated to support government services - 40 percent will support public schools, 20 percent will support law enforcement, 20 percent will support mental health and 5 percent will support the Oregon Health Authority.
State-licensed vendors may still face obstacles, however, when it comes to their federal income taxes. Internal Revenue Section code 280E denies any tax deductions and credits for businesses that traffic any controlled substances that are prohibited under federal law.
6) Marijuana DUIs may be addressed in future legislation
Unlike the Washington law, which included attached regulations concerning driving impairment, Oregon’s law has more room for interpretation.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is classified as a class b traffic violation, which carries a presumptive fine of $260 and is not to exceed maximum fine of $2,000. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has been tasked with researching the subject of drugged driving and presenting its finding to the Oregon Legislative Assembly no later than January 2017.
After reviewing the OLCC report, the state legislative assembly will decide whether passing more extensive driving regulations will be necessary.
8) Crossing the Columbia River with a state-licensed spliff will catch you a felony
Although marijuana is simultaneously legal in Oregon and Washington, it's illegal to transfer the drug between the two states.
Measure 91 is only applicable to Oregon and marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Even with a physician’s subscription, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance - meaning that anyone transporting it across state lines is prosecutable by federal agencies.
9) Legalization could mean big money for financial service startups
It’s not just the vendors whose businesses will grow under legalization - companies like Greenpay are expected to expand rapidly once the new legal market gets its footing. Greenpay would allow consumers to instantly purchase marijuana using their smartphones.
Greenpay is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MyEcheck - a publicly traded company whose shares typically trade for less than ten cents on the New York Stock Exchange. With legalization efforts gaining momentum around the country, companies providing auxiliary services for the marijuana industry may create an economic boom.
10) It’s spreading like the plague
In an interview with GoLocalPDX, proponents of Measure 91 said they’re focused on achieving legalization for other states, including California, in the 2016 election.