Does Oregon Have the World’s Best Marijuana Laws?


When we were drafting the Measure 91 legalization measure, we had the benefit of following in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington and also building upon the foundation of Oregon’s already progressive marijuana laws. I am very proud of what we managed to accomplish with Measure 91, particularly of the fact that we were able to garner more than 56% of the vote in a mid-term election for a legalization measure that allowed for the home cultivation of 4 plants, an eight ounce home possession limit (up to a pound decriminalized) and avoided any per se driving under the influence provision.

We never would have been able to pass such a progressive law if not for the hard work of activists in other states and Oregon advocates that had spent decades improving and protecting Oregon’s marijuana laws. While very happy that we had crafted a measure that will benefit Oregon, we imagined that future legalization measures will be able to build upon Measure 91 and pass even better marijuana laws in the future.

This past legislative session both improved Measure 91 (decreased marijuana penalties, allowing the expungement of past marijuana convictions, etc.) and worsened the law (allowing localities that didn’t support legalization with 45% of the vote to ban marijuana businesses without a vote of the people and a local tax provision that could push marijuana prices higher than M91 intended, for example). However, the cannabis community still moved forward a couple of steps, in my opinion, while taking one step back as the sausage making of political compromise usually includes a bit of a give and take.

Once the legislative session ended, I started comparing Oregon’s law compared to other states and am convinced that we have the best marijuana law in the country. The law isn’t perfect and we will continue to work to improve the law, but relatively speaking, the law is pretty great. Russ Belville, Executive Director, Marijuana Poltics blogger and Portland NORML Executive Director (you can see why he is arguably the hardest working man in cannabis activism), declared that Oregon has the best marijuana law in the world over at High Times. Russ’ Radical Rant includes 10 reasons why the Beaver State has the best marijuana law, here are just a few:

1. The Country’s Greatest Legal Marijuana Possession Limits

As of July 1, Oregon’s Measure 91 allows adults 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana in public, a half-pound at home, a pound of marijuana-infused edibles, 4.5 pints of marijuana-infused liquids and an ounce of store-bought extracts.

4. We Can Grow Our Own Marijuana, Even Near Schools

It’s unlawful cultivation near a school that’s a felony. The legislature explicitly protected our possession, processing and home grow rights near schools, which is four marijuana plants per household.

8. Lowest Marijuana Prices and consistently show Oregon to have the lowest reported prices for marijuana. Some medical dispensaries in Portland, which will be allowed to sell to all adults on October 1, are offering ounce specials as low as $79, and even the best quality super-bud rarely sells for over $225 an ounce.

The entire Radical Rant is certainly worth reading over at High Times, so check it out and let Russ know what you think. I may be a little biased as chief petitioner and co-author of Measure 91 as well as engaging in the lobbying negotiations to reduce marijuana penalties across the board in Oregon, so I am curious as to what others think as well. Passing Measure 91 and further reducing marijuana penalties is a great achievement by the Oregon cannabis community, but we know that we aren’t done yet. We still have a ways to go until the cannabis community is truly equal and free and we won’t rest until our ultimate goal is reached. However, activists, every now and again, need to reflect upon and appreciate the advances that we have made and crafting arguably the best marijuana law in the country, if not the world, is something that the Oregon cannabis community can be proud of.

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.