Pubdate: Wed, 30 Sep 2015
Source: Mail Tribune, The (Medford, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Mail Tribune
Note: Only prints LTEs from within it's circulation area, 200 word count limit


Thursday will be a big day for those who have waited to legally 
purchase recreational marijuana in Oregon, but the change will 
probably go unremarked by everyone else.

A dozen medical marijuana dispensaries will offer recreational pot to 
adults 21 and over, from Gold Hill to Ashland - but not in Medford, 
which is still working out the details for when - and if - it will 
approve retail sales.

Medford voters split nearly 50-50 on last fall's legalization 
initiative, so it's not surprising the City Council has been cautious 
about allowing retail sales, processing facilities or testing labs, 
all of which are now legal in Oregon. A permanent moratorium on pot 
shops remains in place, although the council has now reviewed 
proposals on where such shops could locate and possible restrictions 
on their operations.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana dispensaries outside Medford whose 
owners chose to offer recreational as well as medical sales are ready 
to greet customers Thursday, and are expecting a busy first day. 
Growers throughout Southern Oregon have boosted their production to 
prepare to meet what they expect will be robust demand, although this 
year's new crop won't be ready to sell until November.

For those apprehensive about this, there probably will be little 
noticeable difference between Wednesday and Thursday, except for the 
lines of people waiting for their first opportunity to purchase 
marijuana openly without a medical card. Recreational weed has been 
legal for adults 21 and over to possess and to use since July 1 - and 
there has been little visible change. For that matter, marijuana use 
has been ubiquitous in Oregon for a long time. Oregon was the first 
state to decriminalize possession of small amounts in 1973, and 
voters legalized medical marijuana in 1998.

Some in the local tourism industry are unsure whether legalization 
will bring a surge in out-of-state visitors, but there is every 
reason to believe it will have some effect - Colorado saw a 10 
percent jump in the first year.

For those ready to celebrate the toppling of the last remnant of 
prohibition, remember there are rules. Smoking in public is against 
the law - just as carrying an open beer down the street is. Providing 
marijuana to minors is against the law - just as furnishing alcohol 
to anyone underage is. Driving under the influence of any intoxicant, 
including marijuana, is definitely against the law, and police will 
be on the lookout for impaired drivers.

The best advice may be a twist on the familiar ad tagline: Remember 
to smoke responsibly, and designate a driver.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom