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Oregon Governor Signs Marijuana Penalty Reduction Bills Into Law

July 3rd

SALEM, OR — Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) Monday signed into law two measures that will reduce the punishments for certain marijuana-related offenses. The changes go into effect immediately.

The first, Senate Bill 40, lowers the penalties for possession of more than an ounce of pot. Under the old laws, possession of more than four ounces was a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Now, it becomes a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to five years in prison. Similarly, possession of between one and four ounces was a Class B felony; now, it becomes a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months.

It also reclassifies offenses involving the possession of less than 1/4 ounce of hashish from a felony to a Class B misdemeanor.

SB 40 also reduces the penalties for marijuana cultivation. Unlawful manufacture was a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison; now, it becomes a Class B felony dropping the maximum sentence by half.

Possession of less than an ounce of pot is decriminalized in Oregon, but people cited for possession also faced a mandatory suspension of driving privileges unless there were “compelling circumstances” not do. READ MORE

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Oregon Senate Committee Tweaks Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill

June 30th

SALEM, OR — A committee in the Oregon Senate has amended a House-approved bill that would expand the state’s medical marijuana program to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries statewide.

Two significant changes were made to the bill Saturday by the Senate Committee on Rules following concerns voiced from the Oregon District Attorneys Association, who changed their position on the bill from “opposed” to “neutral” after the changes were made.

In the original bill, anyone with two or more prior convictions for distribution or manufacturing a controlled substance in the state of Oregon would be prohibited from operating a dispensary. Under the changes made Saturday, the restrictions were expanded to apply to anyone with one prior conviction, regardless of where that conviction took place.

The other significant change was the elimination of a provision included in the original bill that limited the criminal liability of existing medical marijuana dispensaries in the state if they are prosecuted before the new law takes effect.

Medical marijuana dispensaries already exist in Oregon, but are operating in a legal grey area.  The O. . . . . READ MORE

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Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Heads to Senate

June 26th

SALEM, OR – A bill that would create a registry of medical marijuana outlets and help legitimate the state’s thriving medical marijuana industry passed a major hurdle Monday, winning approval in the House. The bill, House Bill 3460, now goes to the state Senate.

The bill passed the House 31 to 27 on a near party-line vote Monday. All Republicans opposed it, and all Democrats but two supported it.

The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) allows patients to grow their own medicine or have someone else to it for them. But many patients have complained that they can grow marijuana themselves, can’t find a reliable grower, and have to either do without or resort to the black market.

In the past few years, dispensaries have opened up to serve patient needs, but they have operated in a grey area since the OMMA did not specifically provide for them. That has led to differences in access to medical marijuana based on the attitudes of local officials.

In Multnomah County (Portland), for example, medical marijuana outlets have been largely tolerated, but providers have been raided in less tolerant areas of th. . . . . READ MORE

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Oregon Lawmakers Send Two Marijuana Reform Bills to Governor

June 26th

SALEM, OR — Lawmakers in the Oregon legislature have voted to approve two marijuana reform bills, sending them to the desk of Governor John Kitzhaber for approval.

The bills, Senate Bill 40 and Senate Bill 82, aim to amend penalties related to minor marijuana possession offenses.

Senate Bill 40 reclassifies marijuana offenses involving the possession of over one ounce, but less than four ounces of marijuana from a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of six months.

The bill also reclassifies offenses involving the possession of less than 1/4 ounce of hashish from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Possession of an ounce or less is already a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and caries no possible jail time.

Senate Bill 82 eliminates the suspension of driving privileges for those convicted of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, which affects an estimated 5,000 Oregon residents per year.

Both bills received strong bi-partisan support in both chambers of the legislature.

A separate measure that would would license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in the state READ MORE

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Oregon House Approves Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill

June 25th

SALEM, OR — The Oregon House voted 31-27 Monday to approve a bill that would license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries statewide.  The bill has now been sent to the Senate for consideration.

Earlier last week, the bill received endorsements from Oregon Attorney General  Ellen Rosenblum, who said that the passage of the bill will help to ensure that all patients with a valid Oregon Medical Marijuana Program card will be able to obtain medical marijuana “safely, predictably, promptly and legally.”

The bill, House Bill 3460, directs the Oregon Health Authority to establish a registration system for medical marijuana facilities.  Such facilities exist presently in the state but are unregulated and are subject to state and local prosecution.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Peter Buckley and Sen. Floyd Prozanski, both Democrats, would require medical marijuana facilities to seek a license from the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program similar to the license that patients and registered growers are required to obtain under current law.

The bill sets out a series of regulati. . . . . READ MORE

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Vote Expected This Week on Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill

June 24th

SALEM, OR — Lawmakers in the Oregon legislature are expected to vote this week, possibly as early as today, on a bill that would licence and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries statewide.

The bill  was approved the Ways and Means committee last Thursday on a 13-2 vote among House members and 6-5 vote among Senate members.

Earlier last week, the bill received endorsements from Oregon Attorney General  Ellen Rosenblum, who said that the passage of the bill will help to ensure that all patients with a valid Oregon Medical Marijuana Program card will be able to obtain medical marijuana “safely, predictably, promptly and legally.”

The bill, House Bill 3460, directs the Oregon Health Authority to establish a registration system for medical marijuana facilities.  Such facilities exist presently in the state but are unregulated and are subject to state and local prosecution.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Peter Buckley and Sen. Floyd Prozanski, both Democrats. . . . . READ MORE

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Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensary Regulation Bill Advances

June 21st

SALEM, OR — A bill that would license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon received a favorable recommendation from a key committee Thursday, and looks to be heading to the floor of the full House for a vote.

Earlier this week, the bill received endorsements from Oregon Attorney General  Ellen Rosenblum, who said that the passage of the bill will help to ensure that all patients with a valid Oregon Medical Marijuana Program card will be able to obtain medical marijuana “safely, predictably, promptly and legally.”

The bill, House Bill 3460, directs the Oregon Health Authority to establish a registration system for medical marijuana facilities.  Such facilities exist presently in the state but are unregulated and are subject to state and local prosecution.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Peter Buckley and Sen. Floyd Prozanski, both Democrats, would require medical marijuana facilities to seek a license from the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program similar to the license that patients and registered growers are required to obtain under current law.

The bill sets . . . . . READ MORE

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Oregon Attorney General Endorses Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill

June 19th

SALEM, OR — A bill that would expand Oregon’s medical marijuana program to authorize and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries has been endorsed by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who has sent letters to state lawmakers in support of the bill.

House Bill 3460, which is scheduled for a hearing at 4:30 today by the House Ways and Means Committee, would direct the Oregon Health Authority to establish a registration system for medical marijuana dispensaries, which exist in the state but are unregulated and are subject to state and local prosecution.

“Over the past several years approximately 150 medical marijuana facilities have opened and continue to operate in Oregon without regulation on licensure,” Attorney General Rosenblum wrote in a letter of endorsement to the bill’s primary sponsors in the legislature.

“These facilities operate in a climate of uncertain legality, and the absence of a clear regulatory structure makes ensuring compliance with the law difficult. HB 3460 tackles this problem by putting in place a regulatory framework for marijuana facilities, giving the Oregon Health Authority oversight and control over their lawful operation, and thereby ensuring that all persons with a valid Oregon Medical mar. . . . . READ MORE

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2014 Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Underway in Three States

June 18th

The race to be the next state to legalize marijuana at the ballot box is on. Activists in three states — Alaska, Arizona, and Oregon — have taken initial steps to get the issue before the voters during the 2014 general election.

In Alaska, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell last Friday certified a ballot initiative application that would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults. Backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, the initiative would also set up a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. Adults could grow up to six marijuana plants for their personal use.

Proponents will have one year to gather 30,169 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. But they have to wait a week or so for the state elections division to begin printing the petition booklets.

Alaska already allows for adults to possess small amounts of marijuana in their homes under the state Supreme Court’s interpretation of the state constitution’s privacy provisions.

In Arizona, Safer Arizona is sponsoring an initiative to amend the state constitution to allow for legal, taxed, and regulated marijuana use and commerce. The group READ MORE

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US Court Records Show Nearly 500 Years in Prison Time for Medical Marijuana Offenses

June 15th

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — In spite of growing public support for medical marijuana, concern about overreach by the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies, and cutbacks in federal spending, the U.S. government’s war on medical marijuana is raging unabated according to a survey of court records by Cal NORML.

On Tuesday, Michigan medical marijuana grower Jerry Duval, a kidney and pancreas transplant patient with severe medical problems, began serving a ten-year sentence in the same prison as the Boston bomber. Duval joins a growing list of defendants in states that allow medical marijuana who have been charged by the Department of Justice for violating federal laws prohibiting medical marijuana.

According to a survey of US court records, news stories, and case reports compiled by Cal NORML (with help from Americans for Safe Access):