Weed Is Free in Oregon

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Oregon’s new marijuana legalization statute left the state’s potheads in a quandary. Weed is legal to buy, possess, and use, but the law still prohibits anyone from selling it. That won’t be legal until next year.

Smoking Marijuana JointIn the meantime, stoners think they’ve found a workaround, and they’re exploiting it. The law does allow adults over 21 to give marijuana to each other. As long as nothing of value changes hands, it is legal to gift up to an ounce.

NORML took advantage of that loophole July 1, hosting a legalization party at Portland’s Burnside Bridge. At the crack of midnight, the pro-pot group handed out free joints and seeds to hundreds of people.

“Today is a beautiful day,” said Jordan Morehead, 22, who joined the celebration on the bridge. Pot is legal in Oregon, he noted, and as of late June, gay marriage is legal everywhere.

Recreational use legalized 1st July

The new law took effect at 12 a.m. on the first day of July, making Oregon the fourth state to allow the recreational use of marijuana. Colorado and Washington legalized in 2012, while Oregon and Alaska joined them in 2014; so did Washington, D.C.

The idea behind the gifting provision was to avoid penalizing adults who share weed while waiting for retail shops to open in 2016. Medical marijuana has been legal in Oregon for almost 20 years, so the drug is widely available at low prices.

Now the deals are getting even better. Pro-weed groups plan to host more parties where, for the price of an admission ticket, adults can leave with free cannabis samples. Early in July, activists held a “Weed the People” event that gave away 7 grams to each attendee.

Attendees were gifted marijuana

Marijuana LeavesAt Burnside Bridge, Russ Belville of NORML’s Oregon branch handed out joints and other party favors. Police officers stood guard but no one tried to stop the giveaway. Partygoers were peaceful and well-behaved.

Kaliko Castille, also of NORML, said the celebration was a sign legalization is already working. The party drew a diverse crowd, Castille said, brought together to toast a positive change.

“It’s great to see people from all walks of life out here, handing out joints to each other and getting to know their neighbors,” he said.

Oregon’s legal weed statute allows possession of up to 8 ounces of pot at home, plus up to 1 ounce in public. Adults may grow up to six plants on private property, with no more than three of them mature at the same time.

It will likely be more than another year before legal weed becomes available at stores. Oregon faces a long licensing process and is still fine-tuning industry rules.