Portland Police Being Sensible on Marijuana at the Blues Festival


The Portland Police, for the most part, have been very sensible on marijuana policy in recent history. Realizing that they have more important issues to tackle, law enforcement, both in the police bureau and district attorney’s office have reasonably concluded that marijuana is a very low law enforcement priority, especially anything resembling personal use that’s not disrupting anyone else. The pragmatism has continued, thankfully and not unexpectedly, into the new era of  legalization in Oregon after July 1st.

First, the Portland Police issued a very Portland-esque visual to help people know how much marijuana adults over 21 can legally possess, comparing mounds of marijuana to the size of a Voodoo donut. Next, came the announcement that Portland law enforcement wasn’t concerned about adults bringing legal amounts of marijuana back from Washington State. And now, the Portland Police have stated that they won’t be ticketing marijuana users at the Waterfront Blues Festival.

OPB reports:

Portland Police Sergeant Pete Simpson says the focus will be on public safety, not writing tickets, “We are relying on the security that’s hired by the event to manage the event appropriately,” he said.

“And for folks that are there that are concerned about it, we’re asking them to contact security and have them address it appropriately. We don’t want people calling 911. These are not emergency situations. If someone is driving a car [while] smoking, that’s a different story.”

Simpson says officers can write tickets for public pot smoking. The fine varies from about $260 to $1,000.

I certainly do not encourage anyone to use marijuana in public or cross state lines with it, but it is encouraging to see that the Portland Police have taken a reasonable stand on the issue. I expect that public smokers in the future, particularly those who are smoking close to minors or garner several complaints, will be ticketed, but it is a public service and a better use of resources to educated the public and prioritize more serious matters. The cannabis community and law enforcement haven’t always seen eye to eye, but it is a great step in the right direction when law enforcement embraces regulation and legalization, instead of lobbying to return to prohibition. Better prioritizing law enforcement resources is one of the major reasons voters supported the Measure 91 legalization measure and thus far the Portland Police are following the will of the voters.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.