Oregon is the third US state to allow the smoking and growing of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.
Crowds counted down the minutes to midnight – then lit up joints as smoking marijuana became legal in Oregon on Wednesday – as the growing legalization movement spreads to the fourth western US state.
Hundreds gathered on the Burnside Bridge in downtown Portland and smoked under the glow of a neon city sign – marking the moment that the law allowing recreational use – backed by voters in November – came into effect.
The legislation opens the way for shops to sell marijuana by next year – though some lawmakers say they will still try to block retail outlets.
Similar legalisation initiatives that have ushered in a network of retail pot shops are already in force in Washington state and Colorado – reflecting a shifting legal landscape for a drug that remains illegal under federal law. Alaska – which also voted to legalise marijuana – hopes to see pot shops in 2016.
About half the country’s states allow marijuana for medical use. The District of Columbia has voted to allow recreational-use marijuana but not retail shops and a pot legalisation campaign is getting underway in California.
‘We are thrilled with the end of adult marijuana prohibition – but we are far from where we need to be’ said Russ Belville from the Portland chapter of pro-marijuana group NORML on Tuesday before the law came into effect.
Oregon residents aged 21 and older can now smoke privately – grow up to four plants – and possess up to eight ounces (227 grams) at home and one ounce outside home – the Liquor Control Commission said.
Driving while high remains illegal and pot cannot be transported out of state – even to neighbouring Washington – where retailing started last year the commission said.
Public smoking also remains illegal but there were no immediate reports of arrests at the Portland bridge.
Source: Oregon legalises recreational marijuana as campaign spreads | Stuff.co.nz