​Oregon legalizes marijuana: 5 things to know

Reuters / Alessandro Bianchi
The personal use of marijuana is officially legal in Oregon as of July 1, making the state the fourth in the nation to sanction the drug’s recreational use. Residents may not want to rush to light up, though, as many details have yet to be ironed out.

The legalization of marijuana possession was first approved by voters via a ballot measure during the 2014 midterm elections. The win for pot advocates set the stage for the state to begin rolling out legalization polices and start work on regulating drug sales, but much of that work remains unfinished.

Here are five things you should know about the state of marijuana in Oregon:

Oregonians can now grow and possess their own marijuana…

Under Measure 91, residents 21 years and older can now legally possess and grow marijuana plants at home. People are allowed to possess up to half a pound (eight ounces) and grow up to four cannabis plants. Oregonians can also give and receive marijuana as gifts.

Additionally, residents are permitted to smoke at home and make edible products, such as pot brownies, for their own personal consumption. Up to 1 pound of edible products is permitted in homes, as well as up to 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquid.

… But no one can actually buy it yet…

Notably, although it’s legal to possess and grow marijuana, it’s still illegal to go out and purchase the drug, be it from a retailer already selling medical marijuana, dealers on the black market, or even personal acquaintances. And even though cannabis plants can be grown at home, it’s currently illegal for anyone to go out and purchase one.

The reason? Lawmakers have not scheduled legal marijuana sales to begin until late 2016. That’s almost a year and a half from now, sparking concerns that the slow pace of legalization will lead to the growth of the underground market. As a result, lawmakers are looking to expedite the process and make at least some legal sales available as of October 1 of this year.

At present a recreational sales tax of 25 percent is scheduled to go into effect in January 2016. That number is scheduled to drop to a maximum of 20 percent by the second half of 2016.

… Or smoke it in public…

Regardless of when retail sales legally begin, smoking marijuana in public places remains prohibited. Although some defied this rule as they celebrated legalization going into effect, generally speaking, residents will probably want to avoid doing so. State law defines public spaces as hallways and lobbies of apartment buildings and hotels, on the street, in schools, amusement parks and public parks, Oregon Live reported.

READ MORE: Medical marijuana not as effective as previously thought – study

… And don’t even think about bringing in pot from outside the state

Anyone visiting Oregon and hoping to smoke pot should take note of two new rules: While in state, visitors are permitted to possess marijuana (meaning they can receive it as a gift, too), as long as they are 21 or older. Yet people won’t be allowed to bring pot from other states into Oregon, even if they purchased the drug legally in Alaska, Colorado, or Washington State, all of which have legalized marijuana. Recreational marijuana is still outlawed at the federal level and in most states, meaning moving the drug across state lines is illegal as well.

What are the penalties?

If caught smoking in public, users can be fined up to $1,000, the equivalent of a traffic ticket. Being caught over the possession limit can also lead to fines, depending on how much of the drug someone is holding. Possessing more than a pound of marijuana (16 ounces) is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Possessing more than 32 ounces is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years behind bars and a fine of up to $125,000.