Marijuana usage for recreational and medicinal purposes is allowed in Oregon. In 1998, Oregon was one of the first four states to approve medicinal marijuana. Several changes to the law have subsequently been made, clarifying the processes for legal purchase and usage, as well as the circumstances that are authorized for medicinal marijuana use.
An Oregon resident who is 18 years of age or older and is suffering from a qualifying debilitating medical condition that has been diagnosed by a medical doctor or osteopath who registered with the Oregon Health Authority is permitted to use medical marijuana. Currently, registered patients may own up to 24 ounces of usable marijuana, 6 mature plants, and 18 immature plants.
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) allows a patient with a valid ID card to use, possess, and cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes. OMMA also permits a patient to designate a primary caregiver to help the patient with purchasing or growing marijuana. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is the agency responsible for regulation OMMA, through the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). Per regulations, a patient must enroll in the OMMP patient registry and possess a valid identification card in order to be protected from arrest.
Measure 91, which legalized recreational marijuana and created a regulated marijuana market, was passed by Oregon voters on November 4, 2014. The legislation allows citizens aged 21 and above to be in possession of up to 1 ounce of the drug in public or up to 8 ounces of cultivated marijuana at home. Residents may possess up to 4 plants, 16 ounces of solid infused concentrates, and 72 ounces of liquid infused concentrates. Under the law, marijuana can be legally consumed in private.
Retail sales of marijuana in Oregon began in October 2015. Initially, the state permitted medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana to adult users. However, since January 1, 2017, recreational marijuana could only be sold by businesses that have obtained a license to do so.
Marijuana retailers in Oregon can only sell to individuals within a 24-hour period:
1 ounce of usable marijuana (flower, leaves)
16 ounces of solid cannabinoid products (edibles)
72 ounces of liquid cannabinoid products (marijuana-infused beverages)
5 grams of extract or concentrate (pre-filled wax cartridges, dabs)
4 immature plants
10 marijuana seeds
Retailers are permitted to sell multiple products listed above consecutively but must not exceed the individual quantity restrictions.
In order to buy medical marijuana in Oregon, you must possess an OMMP card, while recreational marijuana users only need to show valid identification that they are of legal age to purchase adult-use marijuana. Oregon places no restrictions on felons possessing or using marijuana as long as they are of legal age and within the limits of permitted use.
Per marijuana laws in Oregon, there are maximum THC limits per container for medical and recreational marijuana products in the state. THC refers to tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive constituent of marijuana which is responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. The maximum THC limit per container for adult-use cannabis products are:
50 milligrams in edibles
6% in topicals
1 gram in tinctures
100 mg capsules
1 gram extracts
1 gram other items, including those not intended for human consumption
The maximum THC limits per container for medical cannabis products are:
100 milligrams in edibles
6% in topicals
4 grams in tinctures
4 grams capsules
4 grams extracts
4 grams other items, including those not intended for human consumption
Following the legalization of recreational marijuana, the cannabis industry has become a huge contributor to economic activities in the state. According to a 2017 report written for the Oregon State government's House of Representative Committee on Economic Development and Trade, Oregon joined many other states in recording a big economic boost from the legalization of marijuana.
Sales and tax revenues: In recent times, marijuana sales have climbed to record highs with sales reaching a milestone of $1.1 billion in 2020, edging past the $795 million benchmark set in 2019. Between 2016 when recreational marijuana became legal and November 2022, the state has recorded more than $5 billion in marijuana sales. The Marijuana Market Data provided by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission shows that the sale of usable marijuana represents 55.6% of the total sales. On the other hand, sale of marijuana concentrates and edibles represents 25.6% and 10.7% of the total sales, respectively.
The yearly tax income generated by recreational marijuana sales in Oregon surpasses $100 million according to a report by the Oregon Department of Revenue. The state levies a 17% tax on retail cannabis sales, while counties and towns may levy a 3% tax. Legal marijuana has delivered a consistent source of tax revenue at a time when other streams of revenue, such as state lottery earning, are less predictable owing to the struggling economy. Here is an overview of the tax revenues generated between 2016 and 2021.
|Total Cannabis Sales/year
Marijuana tax revenue distribution in Oregon is as follows:
40% to the Common School Fund
20% to mental health, alcoholism, and drug services
15% to state police
10% to cities for enforcement of the measure 10 percent to counties for law enforcement
5% to the Oregon Health Authority for alcohol and drug abuse prevention
Initiative 110, a recently passed measure in Oregon, proposes capping the state's portion of yearly marijuana tax income to $45 million per year. All extra funds will now be directed toward a Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund. Measure 110 takes effect from January 1, 2021.
Job Creation: As of early 2017, there were approximately 12,500 jobs associated with the cannabis industry in Oregon. These are jobs that are directly related to cannabis and are not ancillary marijuana businesses, such as legal, security, regulatory, accounting, consulting, real estate, etc. With an average of $12.13 an hour, these jobs translated into roughly $1.2 billion in economic activity for Oregon.
Marijuana was legalized in Oregon for recreational use in 2015 with the approval of Measure 91 by Oregon voters. Following the law going into effect in 2015, marijuana-related crimes and arrests dropped in the state. According to an Oregon Health Authority (OHA) study released in December 2016, data gathered between 2010 and 2014 (pre-legalization) showed that marijuana arrests represented 15% of all drug-related arrests in the state. Marijuana arrests accounted for 4% of all drug-related arrests in the state between January 2015 and August 2016 (post-legalization).
According to the 2016 OHA report, marijuana arrests dropped over the preceding five years, from a high quarterly rate of 35 arrests per 100,000 people in 2011 (pre-legalization) to 3 arrests per 100,000 adults in 2016. (post-legalization). According to the study, the overall number of marijuana arrests dropped by almost half between 2014 (pre-legalization) and 2015. In 2014, there were 2,108 marijuana arrests, compared to 1,099 marijuana arrests in 2015. The Uniform Crime Reporting Data provided by the Oregon State Police (OSP) also shows a declining number of marijuana-related offenses between 2020 and 2022. In 2020, 2021, and 2022, the number of marijuana-related offenses were 1,537, 1,197, and 940 incidents respectively.
The State of Oregon prohibited the use of all forms of marijuana in 1935. In that year, the State passed the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act, making Oregon's law regarding marijuana at par with the regulations in several other states. However, in 1973, the State made history by becoming the first state to decriminalize the possession of cannabis in small amounts. Per the Oregon Decriminalization Bill of 1973, the use of marijuana in private, and being under the influence of the drug were no longer punished under the law. However, public use and driving under the influence of intoxicants remained punishable offenses.
The 1973 decriminalization bill made possession infractions similar to traffic violation tickets – with a $500 to $1000 fine for residents carrying up to an ounce of weed, rather than a crime. Criminal charges remained for amounts greater than an ounce.
In 1995, HB3466 was proposed to re-criminalize marijuana. The bill proposed to increase the penalties to a Class A misdemeanor with a fine of $100 to $1000 per gram, as well as instating a new crime for being under the influence of marijuana, with fines up to $5,000. However, the bill failed.
In 1998, medical marijuana became legal. Patients with specific qualifying medical conditions were permitted to either grow their own flower or contract another person to do it on their behalf. Oregon was also one of the first states to permit marijuana use for medical consumption.
In 2004, Oregon voters rejected a ballot measure that would allow retail sales of medical marijuana to patients. In 2005, the state's legislature increased the possession and plant limits under the medical marijuana program. Patients were allowed to possess up to 24 ounces and grow a total of six mature plants and 18 immature ones. The legislature also created a grow sites registry and a card for persons responsible for grow sites. The law included a provision permitting growers to be reimbursed for the cost of utilities and supplies but not labor.
In 2010, Oregon voters turned down a ballot measure that would allow retail sales of medical marijuana. The bill failed with 56.15% of voter opposition. However, in the same year, the Oregon Board of Pharmacy moved marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug. Oregon was the first state in the United States to enforce this change. In 2012, Oregon voters rejected Measure 80 - a marijuana legalization effort that set no limit on personal possession and cultivation for individuals aged 21 and older.
In 2012, Oregon lawmakers approved a medical marijuana dispensary registry system to regulate the retail market for medical cannabis. Within the year, the state-licensed 196 medical dispensaries. The state's legislature also reduced the punishment for possession of over an ounce (and less than four ounces) of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor. Also, the state repealed the law that suspended driver's licenses for persons caught in possession of one ounce of cannabis or less.
In 2013, Oregon's legislature passed a bill (HB3460) that allowed local governments more control over medical marijuana dispensaries. These dispensaries were allowed to issue moratoriums, or temporary pauses, for up to a year on non-complying dispensaries. The Oregon Health Authority was also authorized to issue rules regarding the labeling and packaging of edibles to ensure that they stayed out of the hands of children.
In 2014, recreational marijuana was passed through Measure 91. Oregon became the third state to legalize marijuana for all uses following Washington and Colorado in 2012. Measure 91 stipulated that residents aged 21 and older could possess and grow pot, as well as placing a regulated and tax system for retail sales.
In 2015, Governor Kate Brown signed an emergency bill that declared marijuana sales legal to adult users from dispensaries. Beginning October 1, 2015, the bill made it officially legal to purchase marijuana from dispensaries with only an ID. Changes were also made to the criminal statutes in July 2015. Citizens were allowed to own up to 1 ounce of cannabis in public settings, and up to 8 ounces in their own homes. The change also permitted people 21 and older to have up to four marijuana plants per household.
In 2016, Oregon's legislature added three bills that changed the medical cannabis program; HB 4014 allowed out-of-state ownership or investment in medical cannabis businesses, SB 1524 reduces annual medical marijuana card registration fees for veterans from $200 to $20 and relaxes pretrial release conditions for medical marijuana, and SB 1598 adds medical and research marijuana as recognized farm crops.
The 2017 Oregon legislative session brought several changes to the state's medical cannabis program. SB 1057 shifted oversight responsibilities of marijuana producers to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, requiring seed-to-sale tracking to prevent diversion. SB1057 also limited the number of immature plants a cardholder could have, reducing it to 12 from 18, unless the address is a registered grow site. HB 2198 established the Oregon Cannabis Commission to review the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. This bill allowed a medical grow site to transport up to 20 pounds of cannabis a year to a recreational wholesaler.
Cultivation of marijuana in the United States, the early 17th century.