Come Wednesday, adults 21 and older will legally be allowed to possess and use recreational marijuana in Oregon.
But complicating this new, hard-fought-for freedom is one niggling detail: Potential users must receive their marijuana as a gift or get it on the illegal black market because there are still no licensed retail stores in Oregon where law-abiding residents can buy it.
Simply put, residents can smoke and inhale pot, eat brownies baked with it or rub lotions containing the oils into their skin; there’s just no legal way to purchase it. Residents will have the option to grow as many as 4 marijuana plants per residence if they wish.
This cannabis contradiction is frustrating supporters of legalized marijuana use in Oregon and runs counter to how the state’s neighbor to the north, Washington, rolled out its legal program last year.
Oregon’s legalized marijuana initiative, Measure 91, was passed by a 56 percent majority of voters in November 2014. The measure made it legal for individual adults 21 and older to possess and use limited amounts of marijuana.
The measure also gave the Oregon Liquor Control Commission the authority to tax, license and regulate recreational marijuana grown, sold or processed for commercial purposes. The OLCC does not regulate the home grow/personal possession provisions of the law but will begin accepting applications for growers, wholesalers, processors and retail outlets Jan. 4.
Licensed retail shops, however, are not expected to begin selling recreational marijuana for personal use until fall 2016. So how is an Oregonian expected to legally use marijuana on Wednesday if he or she can’t buy the plant or its products until next fall?