By Veronica Morgan
As recreational use of cannabis became legal as of midnight July 1, 2015, crowds gathered to celebrate the victory.
In Portland, a massive celebration on the Burnside Bridge was met with tolerance by law enforcement as a group lit up shortly after midnight.
However, Oregonians need to be aware that although the law permits legal use, production and possession, there are a few caveats to look out for.
For one thing, more than 50% of the state is Federal Land – US Forest Service, National Parks, etc. You cannot legally indulge on any federal land. Only 47% of the state is actually covered by the new legislation. Furthermore, employers have the right to drug test, which can mean that your weekend use can land you in the world of unemployment.
Tests for marijuana cannot distinguish when the THC entered your system. A single brownie, or a few puffs at a party will remain in your bloodstream for days. Since they cannot differentiate between on and off work use, these employers will stick to a zero tolerance policy, which is supported by Federal law.
Ryan Orr is a Human Resources compliance consultant who has been working on this, said, “I [have] definitely talked to employers who say they don’t care, if their activity is legal” Orr went on to explain that certain industries will maintain stricter standards due to liability and safety issues.
Federal authorities will be vigilant in punishing certain violations: transport over the border, illegal grows in the national forest, criminal gang activity, sales while armed, selling to juveniles, or using medical marijuana programs to hide illegal sales.
For most Oregonians, the only legal access to marijuana is to grow it yourself, or to receive it as a gift. Projections show retail facilities may begin to pop up in the fall, but many communities will opt to prohibit retail outlets.
I-5 is a major artery that runs the length of the state, and into neighboring states. Businesses along this corridor are particularly in question. Larger metropolitan areas, like Eugene and Portland should be more accepting.
On a humorous note: The Oregon Senate presented Senator Ginny Burdick-D a bong because she had been instrumental in formulating the regulations. The Senator claimed she had no immediate plans to use it.