House Bill 3400 unanimously passed out of the Oregon Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91 Monday night. The bill has gone through many ups and downs and transformations and it contains some good provisions and some bad provisions. In this blog, I will focus on some of the good provisions, as these aspects of the bill seem to have gone unnoticed by the media, but they will likely have the greatest impact upon the most number of people’s lives.
Let’s recap what’s legal in Oregon for adults over the age of 21, without an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program card, on July 1, 2015: cultivation of up to 4 cannabis plants per household; possession of 8 ounces of usable marijuana in private; one ounce of marijuana flowers in a public place; 16 ounces of solid marijuana products; 72 ounces of liquid cannabis products; and one ounce of cannabis extracts made by a licensed processor. Sharing up to an ounce of marijuana with an adult over 21 is legal, so long as nothing of value is exchanged for marijuana. Driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal, but Oregon doesn’t have a per se marijuana DUI law like Washington or a “rebuttable presumption” law like Colorado.
Most importantly, House Bill 3400 ends most marijuana felonies in Oregon. If, as expected, HB 3400 is signed into law, there will only be six marijuana felonies in Oregon: delivery to a minor under the age of 18; possession of more than a quarter of unlicensed extracts; minors under 21 cultivating marijuana; adults 21 or older cultivating 9 plants or more (4 plants is legal, 5-8 plants a misdemeanor); and state licensees importing and exporting marijuana across state lines for consideration. The bill also clarifies the fact that households within 1,000 feet of a school can still cultivate 4 cannabis plants and that delivery, within the scope of the law (whether by licensees or freely shared homegrown cannabis), is also allowed within 1,000 feet of a school.
The felonies that remain will be the lowest felony level (Class C) and may be expunged after 3 years following conviction and probation/parole. Additionally, everyone convicted of past marijuana offenses will be able to set aside their convictions to be in line with the new classification. And since no marijuana penalty will be greater than a Class C felony, all marijuana offenses may be expunged from people’s records after three years. Currently, marijuana manufacturing and delivery cannot be expunged for 20 years, so HB 3400 will greatly improve thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of lives that have been hurt by the War on Marijuana.
Anyone that has paid attention to Marijuana Politics this legislative session, particularly Alex Rogers’ blogs, has seen that the Oregon Legislature has focused too much time on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and HB 3400 does contains provisions that impact the OMMP that myself, Alex and many Oregon cannabis law reform advocates are not happy about. We will discuss the provisions we are unhappy with in future blogs and will continue to work to repeal harmful provisions and generally improve Oregon’s marijuana laws.
Politics is a lot like making sausage, the process can be ugly and hard to watch. Unlike sausage, unfortunately, legislative bills usually don’t taste great for everybody and compromises are made. However, cannabis law reform advocates must learn to celebrate our victories and House Bill 3400 does include some good victories and gives Oregon certainly one of the best, if not the best, marijuana laws in the country, if not the world. Several members of the committee announced their intention to work on future bills that will bring marijuana penalties down even further in future legislative sessions. For a bit, let’s celebrate the progress made and thank the Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91 for passing out a bill that will dramatically improve the lives of thousands upon thousands of people.