Before you bust out the weed thinking that marijuana is fully legal, you should know your rights. We’ve got a rundown of what you can – and can’t – do under Virginia’s new laws. Crucial marijuana laws you need to know in Oregon state. Count on Gleam Law to a trusted source of up-to-date information on cannabis legal developments.
Hazy about the new marijuana laws? Know your rights.
Before you bust out the weed thinking that marijuana is fully legal, you should know your rights. We’ve got a rundown of what you can – and can’t – do under Virginia’s new laws.
UPDATE: There have been several changes to Virginia’s marijuana laws since the time this blog post was written. For the most up-to-date guide on marijuana law, please visit Marijuana Justice’s Know Your Rights page.
Today is 4/20, an unofficial marijuana holiday that many people celebrate by lighting one up. Any day now, the governor will sign an historic bill making marijuana legal in Virginia. It marks the beginning of the end of the failed War on Drugs that disproportionately polices and incarcerates Black and Brown people.
Before you bust out the weed thinking that marijuana is fully legal, you should know your rights. We’ve got a rundown of what you can – and can’t – do under Virginia’s new laws.
What exactly is legal?
Starting July 1 of this year, it will be legal for adults 21 and older to carry less than one ounce of marijuana in public.
You cannot legally be penalized for carrying marijuana as you go about your daily business, as long as it’s under an ounce. How much is that? Check out Leafly’s visual guide to weed quantities.
There will be consequences if you get caught holding more than one ounce in public. If you get caught with more than one ounce but less than one pound, you’ll have to pay up to a $25 civil penalty. Do not ever carry more than one pound. If you get caught, you could get one to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
It is also illegal for anyone at any age to bring marijuana onto school grounds. The punishment is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which could result in up to six months of jailtime and up to a $1,000 fine, not to mention the burdensome consequences of a criminal record.
Okay, so you’re saying it’s legal for adults over 21 to smoke marijuana in public?
No. The law distinguishes between possession and use, even though they’re just one step away from each other. It is illegal to smoke or consume weed in public. It is also illegal to offer marijuana to someone else, whether they accept it or not. Giving marijuana to a minor in any situation has criminal consequences. The only thing that is legal is having less than one ounce with you, but it has to stay in your pocket or bag.
If caught using or giving marijuana to another person in public, you will face a range of penalties. For your first offense, you will pay up to a $25 fine. For your second offense, you’ll be required to pay another fine and enter a substance abuse treatment and education program. For your third offense, you will be charged a Class 4 misdemeanor, which will result in a $250 fine.
When can I legally buy recreational marijuana?
Legal sales of recreational marijuana will not begin until January 1, 2024. Starting then, only adults over the age of 21 will be able to legally purchase and use recreational marijuana.
What’s taking so long? The state still has to establish the new industry’s rules and regulations and set up the Cannabis Control Authority, which will enforce those rules and regulations. Lawmakers delayed deciding on important questions about how to administer business licenses and whether local governments will have the power to prohibit retail marijuana stores from setting up shop in their jurisdiction. These decisions will be made over the next couple years before the legal market begins on January 1, 2024.
I’m under 21. Is it legal for me to use marijuana?
No. If you’re under the age of 21, it’s illegal to have or use any amount of marijuana. If you get caught with it, you will be required to pay up to a $25 fine and enter a substance abuse treatment and education program.
If you’re under 18 and caught with marijuana, the consequences could be even worse. At the very least, you’ll be fined and required to enter a substance abuse program. Juvenile court will also treat you as “delinquent,” which, depending on the circumstances, could subject you to a range of additional punishments.
Under Virginia law, courts can legally put you on probation, suspend your driver’s license, fine you up to $500, make your parents participate in a substance abuse program, and even take custody away from your parent or guardian. Judges have a huge amount of discretion and can turn your simple marijuana case into something much worse.
What does the law say about marijuana in cars and vehicles?
It’s complicated. Basically, there are still several offenses in the new law that allow police to stop and arrest you. Bottom line: Never use marijuana in a car or vehicle. It’s illegal whether you’re the driver or a passenger.
Do your best to not even bring marijuana with you on the road. If you must, keep it in the trunk. Having an “open container” of marijuana like a plastic bag, jar, or Tupperware anywhere in the vehicle will give law enforcement reason to presume you consumed it while driving, which is punishable by a misdemeanor and up to $250 fine.
If you drive a commercial motor vehicle like a truck, bus, trailer or taxi, keeping marijuana anywhere inside is punishable by a $25 fine.
If you’re a school bus driver or driver for a ride-sharing company like Uber or Lyft, it is illegal to have or use marijuana under any circumstance. Violating this law will potentially get you jailtime and hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fines.
Can I grow marijuana in my home?
Yes, with certain limits. Starting July 1 of this year, each household can legally cultivate up to four plants. Notice the limit is per household, not person. So if you live with roommates, the total number of plants you can grow collectively is still four. Exceeding this limit comes with escalating penalties, from a $250 fine for growing five to ten plants, to misdemeanor and felony charges for above that.
If you home grow, you must make sure your plants are not visible to the public or accessible to minors. The law does not specify what preventative measures you should take or how penalties will be enforced.
Home growers must also tag each of their plants with their name, driver’s license or state ID number, and notation that it is for personal use.
Keep in mind that there is currently no legal way to purchase seeds or cuttings for home growth before January 1, 2024.
I have a marijuana-related offense on my criminal record. Can I get it sealed?
The new legislation allows certain records to be sealed. However, due to technological barriers, record sealing likely won’t begin until July 1, 2025. The law allows records to be sealed as soon as the involved state agencies are ready, but it is hard to predict how quickly they can set up the system.
No later than October 1, 2025, courts will begin automatically sealing the records of people who were previously arrested, charged, or convicted for simple possession of marijuana or for selling, giving, or distributing less than one ounce of marijuana.
Additionally, people with more serious marijuana charges on their records (such as selling more than one ounce of marijuana or any marijuana-related drug paraphernalia) will be able to petition a judge to have their records sealed starting July 1, 2025.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, provided the transaction occurs within one of Maine’s actively licensed adult use cannabis stores.
Maine is home to both a medical cannabis program and an adult use industry. The medical program serves patients, while Maine’s adult use industry services consumers 21 years of age and older. Adult use cannabis and medical cannabis may not be dispensed from the same facility. Unless they have changed their license type or have a separate retail facility, existing caregiver retail stores and medical cannabis dispensaries are limited to selling cannabis and cannabis products to patients with valid medical cannabis credentials in their possession.
See: 28-B M.R.S. §1501(1)(C)
How old do I have to be to consume cannabis and cannabis products?
In order to possess or use non-medical cannabis in Maine, you must be 21 years of age or older.
See: 28-B M.R.S. §1501
Where can I lawfully consume cannabis?
Using cannabis in any form (smoking, eating or vaping) isn’t allowed in public places, including amusement parks, ski resorts, sporting and music venues, state and national parks, campsites, playgrounds, sidewalks and roads, cannabis retail businesses, bars, restaurants and outdoor or rooftop cafes.
So where can you use it? Cannabis use is legal within the confines of private property. Just keep in mind that property owners, landlords, and rental companies can ban the use and possession of cannabis on their premises.
See: 28-B M.R.S. §1501(2)(A)
What are the rules around federal property?
Cannabis is legal under State of Maine law. Federally, it is not legal. If you’re on federal property, such as a national park or a border crossing, you can’t even have it in your possession.
See: 21 U.S.C. § 812
What are the laws on driving and cannabis use?
It is illegal to use cannabis in a vehicle. This goes for both the passenger and the driver.
It is also illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis. You could be charged with an OUI.
See: 28-B M.R.S. §1501(2)(B)(1), 29-A M.R.S. §2411
How much cannabis can I possess?
Adults 21 years of age or older can possess up to 2.5 ounces of a combination of cannabis, cannabis concentrate and cannabis products, including no more than 5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
See: 28-B M.R.S. §1501(1)(B)
How many plants can I grow?
Mainers can grow cannabis for personal use. As many as three mature, 12 immature plants, and an unlimited number of seedlings are allowed per resident 21 years of age or older.
These restrictions do not apply to the cultivation of cannabis for medical use by a qualifying patient, a caregiver, a registered caregiver or a registered dispensary as authorized by the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act.
See: 28-B M.R.S. §1502(1)
What are some of the rules related to growing cannabis for personal use?
First, keep it out of sight. An adult who chooses to grow plants for personal use must make sure their cannabis is not visible from a public way without the use of binoculars or other visual aid.
See: 28-B M.R.S. §1502(2)(A)
Second, make sure it’s locked up. An adult who chooses to grow their own plants must take reasonable precautions to prevent unauthorized access by individuals under the age of 21.
Finally, make sure the ownership of the plants is clear to law enforcement that may come across them. If you’re growing cannabis for personal use, the plant(s) must be tagged with a legible label that includes your name, driver’s license or state identification card number, and a notation that the plant(s) are being grown as authorized by law.
Connor S. Sample, Jr.
Personal Adult Use: Title 28-B, Section 1502
If the parcel or tract of land you are growing on is owned by someone else, you must have their written permission to grow and care for your plants and include the landowners name on each plant’s label.
See: 28-B M.R.S. §1502(1)(C) and (2)(C)
Who can buy medical cannabis?
Only medical patients can buy medical cannabis in Maine. Individuals who have received a patient certification from a medical professional may legally access medical cannabis from a registered caregiver or dispensary. Cards are available to Maine residents only.
Patients visiting Maine from another state may be able to purchase medical cannabis from a registered caregiver or dispensary if they have valid patient identification credentials (like a registry or patient identification card) and their state of residence allows them to use their state-issued credential to purchase medical cannabis in Maine.
What is the difference between a dispensary and a caregiver retail store?
Until recently, dispensaries were required to by nonprofit entities and there was only one per Maine Department of Health and Human Services Public Health District. At present, the most notable difference is that dispensaries can grow an unlimited number of cannabis plants.
How much does it cost to obtain a patient certification?
The cost for a patient certification depends on the medical provider conducting the examination and issuing the certification.
The Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program provides patient cards to registered providers. In order to ensure patient access to the program, the State of Maine has never charged medical providers for the cards they provide to qualifying patients.
If an individual is interested in obtaining a medical card, they may wish to have those discussions with their primary care physician or other trusted medical provider. They may find in doing so that they are able to obtain a card at little to no cost to them.
Are temporary/digital/electronic patient certifications valid?
No. Temporary and/or digital medical cannabis patient cards or certifications are not an acceptable form of identification for the purposes of obtaining cannabis for medical use in Maine.
To be a qualifying patient in Maine’s program, among other things, an individual must possess “a valid written certification. ” A written certification is only valid if it is “a document on tamper-resistant paper signed by a medical provider. “. These requirements are written into law and aim to preserve the integrity of the medical cannabis program by reducing the possibility of altering and tampering with valid medical certifications.
The Office of Cannabis Policy provides medical providers with tamper-resistant patient certification paper at no cost.
Where can I find statistical information on the medical program?
You may be interested in reviewing the annual reports or open data of the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program.
What do I need to apply for or renew a registry identification card (caregiver, caregiver assistant, dispensary employee, etc.)?
Complete and submit the appropriate medical use application(s). Supplemental instructions can be found for the following:
Among other things, you will need to provide a copy of your Maine-issued driver’s license or identification card as proof of residency. Please review all materials for completeness prior to submission to ensure their timely consideration and processing.
How long does it take to get my caregiver card?
Current law requires the Department to approve or deny an initial application or a renewal within 30 days of receipt. In the case of an approval, a registry identification card must be issued within five days of approval.
The average time frame to approve an application is currently one month.
See: 22 M.R.S. §2425-A
How much do caregiver cards cost?
The cost for a registry identification card varies depending on the number of plants being grown. At most, a registered caregiver may grow 30 mature plants or 500 square feet of mature plant canopy and 60 immature cannabis plants. The application fee for a canopy caregiver is $1,500.
Applications fees corresponding to total plant count with fees growing incrementally by $240.
|Mature Plants||Immature Plants||Fee|
See: 22 M.R.S. §2425-A, 10-144 C.M.R. ch. 122, § 8(C)(1)
Where can I find information on which states authorize their residents to use their medical cannabis credential while visiting Maine?
OCP’s guidance on visiting patients and a list of approved states can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/ocp/medical-use/certification-process/visiting-patients.
Can I conduct sales to a visiting patient who presents a medical cannabis credential and a form of identification from two different states?
No. A visiting medical cannabis patient must possess photographic identification or a driver’s license from the same jurisdiction as their valid medical cannabis credential.
See: 22 M.R.S. §2423-D.
Has there been a change in the law governing how I can cultivate cannabis for qualifying patients?
As of April 26, 2022, PL 2021, ch. 662, An Act To Update and Clarify the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, has been in effect. That law made changes to the definition of “cultivation area” and created definitions for “immature plant canopy” and “mature plant canopy”. These new definitions were integrated into the authorized conduct for registered caregivers detailed in 22 MRS § 2423-A(3)(B) and limited for dispensaries as detailed in 22 MRS § 2428(6)(I).
What is the definition of cultivation area?
22 MRS § 2422(3) defines cultivation area as “an indoor or outdoor area used for cultivation of mature marijuana plants, immature marijuana plants or seedlings in accordance with this chapter that is enclosed and equipped with locks or other security devices that permit access only by a person authorized to have access to the area under this chapter. A cultivation area may include multiple indoor or outdoor areas, whether contiguous or noncontiguous, on the same parcel or tract of land.”
I’m a caregiver. How many cultivation areas may I maintain?
Per 22 MRS § 2423-A(3)(B), a registered caregiver may maintain up to two cultivation areas – one for mature plant canopy cultivation, and another for the cultivation of immature plant canopy. The location of the registered caregiver’s cultivation areas for immature and mature plant canopy must be disclosed to the department on the caregiver’s application for, or renewal of, a caregiver registry identification card. In accordance with the changes implemented by PL 2021, ch. 662, a registered caregiver may maintain up to two cultivation areas, one for the cultivation of up to 60 immature cannabis plants or up to 1000 square feet of immature plant canopy and a second for the cultivation of up to 30 mature cannabis plants or up to 500 square feet of mature plant canopy.
How many cultivation areas may a dispensary maintain?
In accordance with 22 MRS § 2428(6)(I), registered dispensaries may maintain only one cultivation area, at a location disclosed to the department on the dispensary’s application for, or renewal of, a dispensary registration certificate. Registered dispensaries may cultivate all immature and mature cannabis plants required for the registered dispensary to assist qualifying patients.
What is a qualifying expense?
For the purposes of this application, “qualifying expenses” means legal fees and costs associated with the drafting and adoption of a warrant article or the adoption or amendment of an ordinance. This includes the conduct of a town meeting or election by a municipality that opted to permit the operation of some or all adult use cannabis establishments within the municipality.
Examples of qualifying expenses include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Attorney’s fees to research, draft and revise cannabis ordinances;
- Staff and contractor time for research and drafting of cannabis ordinances, including staff time and overtime for council/planning board/town meetings;
- Fees associated with providing notice of election and public meetings;
- Staff time, including overtime and stipends, and other associated expenses, for the conduct of town meetings and elections and the tabulation and publication of the results thereof;
- Attorney’s fees associated with development of legal opinions regarding local regulations; and
- Other costs similar to or of the same character of the kinds of expenses listed above.
My town opted-in for medical but not recreational, do we still qualify for reimbursement?
No. At this time reimbursement is only permitted for costs associated with opting in to permit some or all kinds of adult use cannabis establishments to operate within your municipality.
Do towns have to opt-in to all license types to qualify for reimbursement or do towns just need to opt-in to one or more license type?
In order to qualify for reimbursement for qualifying expenses, a municipality must opt-in to permit the operation of at least one of the following kinds of adult use cannabis establishments: cannabis cultivation facilities, products manufacturing facilities, cannabis testing facilities or cannabis stores. Please note that a municipality may submit only one application for reimbursement of qualifying expenses, so if a municipality opts in to only some types of adult use cannabis establishments and submits an application for reimbursement to OCP, the municipality would not be eligible for additional reimbursement of qualifying expenses associated with opting-in to allow additional establishment types at a later time.
What types of receipts will be accepted?
OCP will accept any kind of accounting that is detailed enough for OCP to determine whether the expenses submitted are qualifying expenses as described above. Such an accounting should provide, at a minimum, the following information: The goods and/or services paid for (i.e. legal fees, newspaper advertising, overtime for staff to conduct municipal election); A note regarding the salience of the goods/services paid for to the opt-in process (i.e. drafting of municipal ordinance, advertising town meeting where warrant article will be voted upon, conduct of municipal election where ordinance amendment was approved); and The date of payment.
How many documents can I upload and in what format?
There is no limit on the number of documents that can be uploaded, but each uploaded document must be less than 30 MB. The following file types can be uploaded through the application portal:
How long will processing my application take?
Applications are processed by our office on a first come, first served basis. The office may temporarily postpone application processing any time the unencumbered balance in the Adult Use Cannabis Public Health and Safety and Municipal Opt-in Fund (“the Fund”) falls below $250,000.
Application processing times can vary greatly based upon the volume and completeness of reimbursement applications received and the availability of unencumbered funds in the Fund. When the available balance of the Fund falls below $250,000 in a fiscal quarter, the office may temporarily postpone processing of reimbursement applications until the Fund is replenished in the next fiscal quarter.
If the office temporarily postpones application processing, it will begin processing applications again on a first come, first served basis when funds are once again available. In determining whether an application for reimbursement is received by OCP within 3 years of opting in, OCP will use the date the application for reimbursement was submitted to OCP, not the date it was processed by OCP.
What happens after we submit our application?
Upon submission, you will receive an e-mail confirming that your application materials were submitted to OCP. OCP staff will then review your municipality’s application materials to ensure completeness.
OCP staff will review your municipality’s ordinance or warrant article to ensure that the municipality did, in fact, opt-in to permit the operation of adult use cannabis establishments within the municipality. Please ensure that the ordinance or warrant article submitted includes the effective date of the ordinance or warrant article.
OCP staff will review the accounting and any supporting documentation to determine whether all expenses reimbursed are qualifying expenses. We will reach out if it requires additional information to determine whether certain expenses are qualifying expenses.
OCP staff may determine certain expenses are not considered qualifying expenses and will provide the municipality with an opportunity to provide additional information to establish that the expenses are qualifying expenses.
If OCP determines that certain expenses submitted for reimbursement are not qualifying expenses, OCP will notify the municipality of the total amount of the expenses submitted that are considered qualifying expenses, as well as a list of those expenses not considered qualifying expenses.
Once OCP staff determines that your municipality is eligible for reimbursement for some or all the qualifying expenses submitted, you will receive an e-mail informing you that the municipality’s application has been approved for reimbursement.
Once approved, the municipality will receive reimbursement through the Advantage ID # submitted in the application materials.
We have opted-in for one kind of adult use license (e.g. only cultivation, manufacturing, testing, or sales); can we apply again for additional reimbursement if we opt-in for additional license types in the future?
A municipality may only apply for reimbursement of qualifying expenses once. The municipality may apply for reimbursement for any qualifying expenses (up to a total of $20,000 in qualifying expenses) within three years of passing or amending an ordinance or passing a warrant article. A municipality may apply for reimbursement of all qualifying expenses incurred through the process of developing or amending the ordinance or warrant article submitted as proof that the municipality opted in to permit adult use cannabis establishments within the municipality.
My town opted-in before 2022, can we still apply?
A municipality may apply for reimbursement of qualifying expenses if the municipality completed the opt-in process within three years of applying for reimbursement. However, a municipality may not submit an application for reimbursement of qualifying expenses more than three years after the municipality adopts a warrant article or adopts or amends an ordinance authorizing the operation of some or all adult use cannabis establishments within that municipality.
Do certain applications get priority over others?
No. OCP processes applications for reimbursement on a first come, first served basis. However, reimbursement of qualifying expenses may be delayed if the application is incomplete or OCP requires additional information from the applicant to determine eligibility.
I forgot to upload all the receipts for my application, what should I do?
Please contact Directory of Special Projects Tracy Jacques at [email protected] to determine how to submit any incomplete documentation.
Where do the funds used for reimbursement originate?
The Adult Use Cannabis Public Health and Safety and Municipal Opt-in Fund is funded by excise and sales tax revenues generated by the transfer and sale of adult use cannabis in accordance with 28-B MRS § 1101 and 36 MRS §§ 1818 and 4925.
Can I use cannabis if I am on probation?
For individuals on probation, there are rules and restrictions for cannabis that must be followed. Contact a probation officer to find out more.
Does Maine track and trace (seed-to-sale) cannabis products?
Maine requires the tracking and tracing of cannabis and cannabis products in our adult use program. OCP is in the process of deploying a software solution with Metrc to allow licensees and registrants to enter their information.
Can I travel outside of Maine with cannabis?
It’s illegal to leave Maine with any cannabis products—medical or recreational. Do not cross state lines or approach border crossing with cannabis in your possession. Mailing cannabis from Maine is also illegal.
See: 21 U.S.C. § 812, CBP Statement on Canada’s Legalization of Marijuana and Crossing the Border
Why does OCP use the term ‘cannabis’ instead of ‘marijuana’?
Cannabis is the legal term used in Maine law to describe the product and establishments we regulate and license.
Oregon Cannabis Laws
Measure 91 (M91) allows any individual over the age of 21 to grow, purchase, and possess cannabis in limited quantities. There is no residency requirement to purchase, possess, or use marijuana, nor are non-residents prohibited from owning and operating OLCC licensed cannabis businesses. Public consumption remains illegal, though the Oregon State legislature will be considering public consumption during the 2019 legislative session.
The OLCC is designated to oversee and regulate recreational cannabis businesses. The OLCC has the responsibility to issue and monitor six types of licenses. They also have the authority suspend or revoke these licenses for noncompliance with state law or OLCC rules.
Measure 91 establishes taxation rates based upon the sale volume of flowers, leaves, and plants. Subsequently, the taxation rate was changed to 17% for all sales, with an option for local city and county government to impose an additional 3%. Tax revenue from cannabis sales is distributed between the common school fund, mental health, alcoholism and drug services, cities and counties, law enforcement, and alcohol and drug prevention and treatment services.
Which Cities and Counties Prohibit Cannabis Sales?
The private sale of cannabis and its byproducts is illegal throughout the state, and 95 cities and counties that prohibit the sale of marijuana from licensed marijuana retailers. The full list can be found on the OLCC website at: https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana/Documents/Cities_Counties_RMJOptOut.pdf
A person must be 21 years old, with proper identification, or 18 years old with a medical marijuana program card to purchase, possess or consume cannabis products in Oregon. An individual must also be 21 or older to enter into any licensed hemp or cannabis facility, with very limited exceptions. Proper identification includes a passport, driver’s license, military ID card, or any other state issued identification that includes a person’s name, picture, physical description, and date of birth.
How Much Cannabis Can You Buy in Oregon?
The following are amounts of recreational cannabis products that can be purchased by any person over 21 with proper identification in any single day. There is no Oregon residency requirement for cannabis sales, but all cannabis products sold in Oregon must be consumed in Oregon.
Purchase limits for recreational user:
- 1 ounce of flower
- 5 grams of concentrate or extracts
- 16 ounces of edibles in solid form
- 72 ounces of edibles in liquid form
- 10 cannabis seeds
- 4 immature plants
Purchase limits for OMMP cardholders:
- 24 ounces of usable marijuana (1 ounce from a recreational dispensary)
- 16 ounces of a medical cannabis product in solid form
- 72 ounces of medical cannabis product in liquid form
- 16 ounces of a cannabis concentrate (alone or contained in an inhalant delivery system)
- 50 cannabis seed
- 4 immature plants
* Medical patients have access to medical grade products if available.
Personal Growing Limits
Oregon is one of the few states that currently allows for personal cultivation of cannabis. A household can grow up to a total of 4 plants on their private property. The 4 plant limit is a household limit regardless of the number of adults living in the household. OMMP cardholders can have 6 mature plants, 12 immature plants 24 inches or taller. and 36 immature plants under 24 inches.
Plants can be grown inside or outside; if grown outside, the plants must be out of public view. Some cities or counties restrict the sale of recreational marijuana, but this restriction does not limit household growing. Homegrown cannabis is for personal consumption only and cannot be sold or given to someone in exchange for something of value.
The ability to grow your own cannabis plants is not absolute: If you are leasing your home, the landlord can restrict the property from being used in the cultivation of cannabis. Federal law prohibits growing the plant within 1,000 feet of a school, even if it is on private property. While growing at home is legal, processing the plant into a concentrate without a state-compliant facility is illegal and could be dangerous.
Cannabis Use Restrictions
While it is legal to possess cannabis in almost any location in the state, the use/consumption of cannabis in Oregon is restricted to private property. Use includes smoking, vaping, eating, or drinking a cannabis product. Private property includes personal residences and may include temporary lodging such as hotels, provided that it is permitted by the property owner. However, public areas of a hotel or apartment complex include hallways, lobbies, or pools. There is no public consumption or consumption on property that is open to the public, such as such as streets, sidewalks, parks, bars or restaurants at the time of this publishing. It is being considered for the 2019 legislative session.
Under federal law, it is illegal to possess or consume cannabis and this restriction specifically applies to all federal property. This is an important restriction because the federal government owns more than 50% of the land in Oregon. Examples of federal property in Oregon include federal buildings, national parks, national forests, wildlife areas, and BLM lands.
Transporting Cannabis And Its Derivatives
It is legal to carry these products throughout the state, including in a vehicle or on public transportation, unless it otherwise precluded by such areas as federal land within the state. It is also perfectly legal to carry marijuana on commercial airlines traveling between Klamath Falls and Portland. Transporting across state lines is illegal, even if you are transporting it to a state that has also legalized marijuana such as California or Washington. Just remember: Oregon marijuana must stay in Oregon.
Driving While High
Oregon has strict laws regarding driving under the influence of an intoxicant, DUII (Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, also known as a DUI). Oregon DUII laws are applied in the same manner with alcohol or marijuana–both are considered intoxicants. For a first offence DUII, a diversion program may be available if the offender was not involved in an accident. This program allows the offender to complete a substance abuse program and be on probation for a period of time. If he successfully completes the diversion program, the DUII charge is dropped and the person will not have a DUII conviction on their record. If it is a second offence, or the offender is not eligible for the diversion program, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 2 days plus substantial fines and the offender must complete a substance abuse program. It is also illegal to consume marijuana in a vehicle even if you are not impaired, similar to open container laws.
Unlike alcohol, there is currently no breathalyzer test for the presence of thc in the blood, but police have drug recognition evaluators conduct tests to determine if a driver is impaired. If the tests suspect a driver is under the influence, Oregon implied consent laws allow police to conduct breath, blood, or urine tests to obtain evidence of drug use.
If you choose to use, make sure to allow enough time for the effect to completely wear off before you drive.
Illegal Acts Related to Cannabis
While Oregon has legalized the recreational use of cannabis, there are limits to what is allowed. Below is a sample of what remains illegal in Oregon:
- Selling or providing cannabis to minors (anyone under the age of 21, or 18 with an OMMP card)
- Transporting cannabis across state lines, including to states where cannabis is legal
- Unlicensed growing, processing, transporting, or sales of cannabis
OLCC and the Cannabis Industry in Oregon
The OLCC oversees six license types; producer, processor, wholesaler, retailer, laboratory, and research licenses. Once products get into the OLCC system, they can only be transferred between OLCC licensed facilities, until they are sold to the end user by a retailer or destroyed, and must be recorded in the Cannabis Tracking System, METRC, which provides seed-to-sale tracking. OLCC rules limit how product can flow between license types and licensees.
The OLCC has regulatory authority of all aspects of the recreational cannabis market, including:
- Product Testing for contaminants, such as pesticides, solvents, and potency
- Packaging and Labeling
- Security systems
- Operational procedures
The OLCC provides strict regulatory oversight by means of scheduled visits, surprise inspections, and third-party complaints to trigger investigations. The OLCC has authority to issue violations with sanctions including fines, license suspension, or license revocation.
The Oregon Medicinal Marijuana Program (OMMP) is administered by the OHA. The OHA licenses and regulates medical cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries. Cannabis grown or processed under the OMMP program can only be sold to OMMP patients. There are certain exceptions that allow growers and processors to sell products to a recreational licensed facility.
To become an OMMP patient, an individual must be at least 18 years old and have a qualifying condition and a recommendation for using medicinal canabis from their attending physician. OMMP patients are issued medical cards that allow them to purchase cannabis from a medical marijuana dispensary. They can also purchase medical or recreational cannabis tax-free from a recreational cannabis retailer.
The OMMP program is currently in severe decline. In the past year, the number of medical patients has dropped approximately by half and there only 5 OMMP licensed dispensaries, down from about 400 at the peak of the medical program.
Industrial Hemp Regulations
Traditionally, industrial hemp was used for making rope, clothing, and sails for boats, among other products. Now hemp is primarily used to make cannabidiol (CBD) oils. Many people believe that CBD oil has substantial medical benefits such as pain management and reducing swelling. These properties have not been tested by the Food and Drug Administration and the FDA takes the position that no CBD is legal except for the pharmaceutical drug Epidiolex. The FDA has not conducted widespread enforcement action and most CBD products are sold in the market without substantial opposition or testing.
Industrial hemp is defined as the plant Cannabis Sativa with a THC level of less than 0.3%. Industrial hemp in Oregon is regulated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (the ODA). The ODA issues two type of permits: 1) a grower permit and; 2) a handler permit. These permits are substantially easier and cheaper to obtain as compared to OLCC licenses, and there are much fewer restrictions. If the samples exceed the THC limit, the product must be destroyed. Similarly, processed hemp is required to be tested for THC levels prior to sale. Once the processed hemp is sold by a processor it is considered an agricultural commodity and is not further regulated by the ODA.
Because industrial hemp and cannabis are the same plant species, there is naturally confusion under federal law. In 2014, Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill which included provisions for industrial hemp. The Farm Bill defines hemp in the same way as Oregon and allows states to grow industrial hemp for experimental purposes under the supervision of a university or a state department of agriculture. Oregon’s industrial hemp program was created under the 2014 Farm Bill.
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) does not differentiate industrial hemp from recreational cannabis, so hemp and marijuana are treated the same: both are illegal. The CSA does have an exemption for dried mature stalks and sterilized seeds, but there is no economically significant amount of CBD in these parts of the plant, so they are only good for rope and ship sails. This inconsistency in federal law creates confusion and a potential problem for exporting CBD oil out of Oregon or the country. Congress recognizes this issue and the Senate’s version of the 2018 Farm Bill would fix the problem by legalizing industrial hemp. As of this writing, the House version of the bill does not include hemp legalization, but the hemp legalization portion of the Senate’s version, backed strongly by Mitch McConnell and other senate republicans, is widely expected to be passed in the final version of the bill. In addition, the omnibus spending bill they included a provision that prohibits the Department of Justice from using budgetary funds from prosecuting industrial hemp activities conducted in compliance with state industrial hemp pilot programs developed under the 2014 Farm Bill.
History of Cannabis In Oregon
Prior to 1935, cannabis was legal in Oregon. In 1935 Oregon adopted the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act. This Act made the possession, production, and distribution of any narcotic a crime. The Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act is the precursor to the Controlled Substances Act.
In 1973, Oregon became the first US State to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis for personal use. It was still a crime possess over an ounce or to sell cannabis.
In 1998, Oregon approved its use for individuals for certain qualifying medical conditions. Medically qualified patients could possess up to three mature cannabis plants or could contract for someone to grow them on their behalf.
In 2005, Oregon created the current medical card program and allowed the patient to reimburse their growers for certain growing expenses. They also increased the allowable limit to 24 ounces of usable cannabis and six plants. In 2012, Oregon created a medical registry system which permitted medical marijuana dispensaries by state-issued license.
In 2014, Oregon became the third state to legalize the personal use of cannabis, under ballot measure 91. While it would take another few months for Oregon’s recreational marijuana program to fully take effect, under emergency legislation, medical dispensaries were permitted to sell medical cannabis to recreational customer beginning October 1, 2015.
In 2016, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (the OLCC) began issuing licenses to recreational facilities. By January 2017, only OLCC licensed facilities could sell to the recreational market.
Hemp and Cannabis – Legal Status
While the majority of states have legalized medical or recreational use of cannabis, federal law criminalizes cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. In 2014 the U.S. Department of Justice issued a series of memos written by then Deputy Attorney General James Cole. These memos (known as the First and Second Cole Memos) recognized the DOJ’s inability to prosecute all drug crimes, so they establish eight enforcement priorities. In the event that a state legal activity did not implicate one of the priorities, it would be unlikely that the DOJ would prosecute, however, the DOJ made no guarantees. In 2018, the U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III rescinded the Cole Memos. The revocation was generally considered a repudiation of the cannabis industry. In practice, the revocation put the decision to prosecute state legal activities in the hands of the local U.S. Attorney in each respective region. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, Billy Williams, has publicly announced his priorities for prosecuting cannabis activities, and his priorities are very similar to the Cole Memo Priorities.