In Criminal Law Reform on Marijuana, Oregon Has Gone Further Than Anyone Else


The New York Times profile by Kirk Johnson of Oregon’s marijuana laws is an extensive piece that covers both criminal law and commercial regulations that have been developed over the years, including the recently passed Measure 91 as well as recent legislation such as House Bill 3400 and Senate Bill 460. The entire article is well worth a read and explains how Oregon has done things a bit differently than the other states that have ended cannabis prohibition:

“Oregon is one of the first states to really grapple with the issue of what do you do with a record of something that used to be a crime and no longer is,” said Jenny M. Roberts, a professor of law at American University in Washington, D.C., who specializes in criminal law and sentencing.


One new law specifically says courts must use the standards of current law — under which possessing, growing and selling marijuana are all legal — in considering records-clearing applications. The other allows faster record-clearing for people who were under 21 at the time of a past conviction.

“In criminal law reform on marijuana, Oregon has gone further than anyone else,” said Leland R. Berger, who specializes in marijuana law and practices in Portland.

As The New York Times article notes, Oregon’s long history as a trailblazer on cannabis policy started with decriminalizing personal mounts all the way back to 1973. Advocates have worked long and hard winning and losing at the ballot box and legislative process to implement a marijuana law that “has gone further than anyone else.” Measure 5 in 1986 was followed by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act in 1998 to Measure 33 in 2004 to Senate Bill 1085 in 2005 to Measure 74 in 2010 to Measure 80 in 2012 to House Bill 3371 & 3460 in 2013 to Measure 91 in 2014 and House Bill 3400  in 2015.

Oregon has a long, colorful history of sensible progressiveness on cannabis issues and we have a feeling that the state isn’t done yet. Advocates are already at work to improve marijuana laws even further and laying the foundation for greater Drug War reforms that will bring policies that have worked effectively in Portugal and other countries to hopefully be a model for the rest of the nation as we say #NoMoreDrugWar.