Oregon Officially Qualifies Legalization for November Ballot
It’s official! The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office has confirmed that New Approach Oregon has submitted more than enough valid signatures to qualify their marijuana legalization initiative for the 2014 election in November.
The Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act will legalize the personal possession of marijuana and marijuana products by adults age 21 and older, including:
Furthermore, if a person possesses up to twice those amounts, the penalty is only a Class B violation. Possession of up to four times those amounts will be only a Class B misdemeanor. One would have to possess over a quarter-pound away from home, two pounds at home, four pounds of edibles, a case of liquids, or a quarter-pound of extracts before the penalty would be a Class C felony.
While New Approach Washington banned home growing, Oregon will allow cultivation of four marijuana plants per household in places where they cannot be seen by normal unaided vision from a public place. The four plants may be mature or immature. Additionally, the penalty for cultivation of between five to eight plants has been reduced to a Class B misdemeanor. Nine plants or more will remain a Class B felony.
Home grow is not the only area where New Approach Oregon differs from its Washington namesake. Under the Oregon measure, there will be no new per se impaired driving standard as there is in Washington. The OLCC is directed to study the issue of impaired driving by 2017 and make recommendations to the legislature based on scientific evidence. But a new penalty, “use of marijuana while driving”, is added to the law as a Class B traffic violation.
Oregon’s measure does allow possession of concentrates, but they must have come from a licensed producer and been bought at a licensed retailer. According to the measure, “no person may produce, process, keep, or store homemade marijuana extracts.” Up to a quarter-ounce of homemade extracts will be a Class B misdemeanor and more than that will be a Class C felony.
The measure will also create a vibrant commercial marijuana market in Oregon overseen by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). Like both Washington and Colorado, there will be licensing of producers, processors, and retailers. However, unlike those states, Oregon will also have a license for wholesalers and will not have any vertical integration or tied-house provisions – meaning that anyone may hold as many of any kind of license they choose. The application fee for any license shall be $250 and the annual license cost is $1,000.
Marijuana will be taxed in Oregon only once, at the producer level, and it will be capped at $35 an ounce (or $1.25 per gram!) for flowers, $10 per ounce for leaves, and $5 per immature marijuana plant. Oregon has no state sales tax and no other sales or excise tax will be added at the processor, wholesaler, or retailer levels. Distribution of those taxes up through July 1, 2017, will go to:
There are no hard limits on how many licenses there may be but the measure does give cities and counties the local option to ban marijuana retailers. That can’t just be the opinion of a city council or county supervisors, however; there must be an initiative petition circulated and the ban must be approved by the voters.
To further incentivize localities to adopt the regulatory system and undercut the black market, after July 1, 2017, that marijuana tax money for cities and counties is half based on how many producer and processor and retailer licenses there are in the city or county and the other half is based on how many retailer licenses there are. In other words, if your city or county bans marijuana businesses, your city or county doesn’t get its share of marijuana tax money. Even if your city or county does ban marijuana businesses, it cannot ban your possession or home growing of marijuana.
To further incentivize the cannabis community to abide by the system, a new section of law is added that defines unlicensed locations that produce, process, sell, or give away marijuana as “common nuisances”, including places allowing people to use marijuana in violation of Oregon law, subject to penalties and property confiscation.
Oregonians will be voting by mail on Measure 53 this November 4th and when approved by the majority, legalization will officially be in effect at midnight, December 4th, 2014.