In July, it became legal for adults over 21 to possess, use and cultivate marijuana in Oregon. Adults can have up to 8 ounces of cannabis inside their homes and 1 once outside. They can also grow up to four plants. But until today, there was no place to legally purchase recreational weed.
That changes today.
Now, anybody over 21 with a valid ID can now walk into an Oregon medical marijuana dispensary and purchase recreational marijuana. According to KOMO, more than 200 of the state’s 345 medical marijuana dispensaries plan to sell to recreational users.
“You don’t have to whisper about it at a restaurant or a bar,” Jeff Drake, a 64-year-old Beaverton retiree told the Oregonian. “You can talk about it openly. People may look at you askance, but get over it. It’s legal.”
Initially, recreational marijuana sales will remain limited. Customers can only purchase flower, clones and seeds. Other forms of marijuana, such as edibles, topicals and dabs, won’t become available on the market until the state refines its regulatory structure. Retail pot shops will likely open in the fall of 2016. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will begin accepting license applications on Jan. 4.
Meanwhile, all of this remains illegal under federal law. Of course, the feds lack any constitutional authority to prohibit or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
So, while the feds can still try to enforce their ban in Oregon, state legalization, and the number of people and businesses now involved in the market make it a virtual impossibility.
Statistics from Americans for Safe Access (ASA) suggest costs-per-raid and costs-per-investigation far exceed the yearly DEA budget. Figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution.
Oregon joins a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition. Colorado, Washington state and Alaska have all legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, and 23 states now allow cannabis for medical use. With nearly half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more. The feds need state cooperation to fight the “drug war,” and that has rapidly evaporated in the last few years with state legalization, practically nullifying the ban.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
While legalization in Oregon primarily affects Oregonians, its impact will ripple across the country. The feds run, fund and perpetuate the unconstitutional “War on Drugs.” Every state that opts out erodes federal power and hamstrings its enforcement efforts. By opening up commerce, reducing state penalties and encouraging freedom, states like Oregon wash away the foundation of federal control, further nullifying unconstitutional federal prohibition in practice.
As more states follow this lead, more will learn how to put this into practice for other issues as well.