Last month Oregon certified a ballot measure for the November election that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. If passed, Oregon would become the third state to allow the recreational use of marijuana, following Washington and Colorado. Until such a law is passed in Oregon, it remains illegal to use or possess the drug without a medical marijuana card. In Oregon, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is not even a crime, but a violation, which is roughly the equivalent of a speeding ticket. This means that if you are found by police to have less than an ounce in your possession, you cannot go to jail, but a hefty fine can still be imposed. If you are caught with an ounce or more, it is a felony and can often lead to multiple charges and significant jail time. In fact, the only misdemeanor possession of marijuana crime occurs if you are caught within 500 feet of a school.
When possession of less than an ounce first became a violation, it required a one year suspension of your driver’s license if the incident involved a car in any way. This is no longer the case. If you are caught with less than an ounce of marijuana, and you are not within 500 feet of a school, the only punishment is a fine. This series of changes in the law lessening the penalties for possession of marijuana seem to be leading to the legalization of the drug, but it will be interesting to see how the voters decide to handle the issue this election. After all, it was only two years ago that a similar measure was rejected by Oregon voters.
© 8/20/2014 Nathan Piers-VanderPloeg of Hunt & Associates, P.C. All rights reserved.