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Recreational Marijuana In Oregon: What You Need To Know

File photo of a of a cannabis plant.
Wikimedia
File photo of a of a cannabis plant.

July 1 will be a big day in Oregon for adults who like to use marijuana. That's when the state's voter-approved legalization of recreational pot takes effect.

Here’s a rundown of some of the things you need to know about the new law.

First, some basics: You have to be at least 21. You can't have more than eight ounces of the drug in your house at any given time. And you certainly can't use it while you're driving.

But what else? You're only allowed to use marijuana at home or on private property. Never in a public place.

So we have our first grey area: Is sitting on your front porch a public place?

"I think the general rule on that is that if you can be seen by someone walking down the sidewalk, then you're probably going to be in violation,” marijuana industry lobbyist Geoff Sugerman explained.

So, front porches are out, unless perhaps you live out in the country. But what about your backyard? That seems to be okay. But let's say you're the neighbor. And let's say you've fired up the grill. And let's say the smell of sizzling steaks is overpowered by the smell of someone in the next yard enjoying their Measure 91 privileges.

Technically, your neighbor is in the clear. But Salem Police Lieutenant Dave Okada said a little neighborly chat may be in order.

"If it's your neighbor, and you have that relationship with your neighbor and it's bothering you, just like anything else that your neighbor may do that's annoying you or creating issues, we encourage people to try to work it out amongst themselves if they can possibly do that,” Okada said.

Using marijuana in public will carry a punishment equivalent to a traffic ticket. SoOkadasaid if you do see someone walking down the street smoking pot, don't call 911. It may be illegal, but it probably isn't an emergency.

"We always advise people to look at the circumstances,” Okada said. “A lot of times, it's just people not being aware of what the law says."

So if marijuana is going mainstream, does that mean we'll be seeing ads for it when we drive down the road or flip on the TV? The late Peter Tosh once sang that he was eagerly anticipating the day when he could inform others of his willingness to sell them pot.

"Legalize it and I will advertise it,” he sang.

So, could Peter Tosh advertise marijuana in Oregon? It depends on the context and the content. Marketing to kids is a no-no, but a spokesman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which will regulate retail sales of marijuana, said the ballot measure itself contains no limits on advertising.

The Commission plans to draw up rules for advertising later this year, keeping in mind the state's robust protections of free speech. But Sugerman thinks a lot of concerns about cannabis will gradually subside.

"I think in a very short period of time, we're going to go back to our normal lives, and nothing is really going to be that much different,” he said.

Except, of course, that marijuana will be legal.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.