What Oregonians need to know about the Wash. pot law

What Oregonians need to know about the Wash. pot law
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Even though having up to an ounce of marijuana will be legal in Washington starting on Thursday, Portland police officers are reminding Oregonians that it’s still a violation to have pot in the Beaver State.

On Wednesday afternoon, a police bureau spokesman sent out a news release reminding people that Oregon law states that possessing less than an ounce of pot is a violation. While officers in the city don’t consider enforcing the law a priority, it’s still technically illegal.

Pot possession is not, however, a serious offense and people can’t be arrested or jailed for it.

While stopping people who have pot is a low priority for the Portland Police Bureau, stopping impaired drivers is still a high priority.

“Much like the existing fireworks laws, what is legal in Washington is not legal in Oregon,” police said in a news release. “If it goes high in the air or gets you high, you should probably use it in the Evergreen State.”

The police bureau also put out the following Q and A:

Question: I have an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program card. Can I bring marijuana into Oregon from Washington?

Answer: Yes. The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program allows for card holders to possess certain amounts of marijuana. It does not dictate where card-holders can get it and there are no changes to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program because of Washington I-502.

Q: I live in Washington but drove to Portland to visit friends. Can I carry my marijuana with me?

A: No. Possession of Less than One Ounce of Marijuana in Oregon is a violation and you may be subject to a citation, similar to a traffic ticket.

Q: Does this mean I can smoke pot in parks or at cafes if I go to Washington?

A: No. While Portland Police do not prioritize enforcing the citations of less than an ounce of marijuana, smoking pot in public spaces is strictly enforced. Don't do it. Even under the new law in Washington, you are not allowed to smoke marijuana in public. Washington is developing rules and a licensing system for the production and sale of marijuana, which may eventually lead to the existence of cafes or businesses where smoking pot is allowed. Until then, if you must consume pot, then do so in the privacy of a residence.

Q: Can I get a violation for being stoned?

A: Unless you are operating a vehicle (bicycles included), you cannot be cited for consumption of Marijuana.

Q: What happens if I get pulled over and an officer thinks I've been smoking pot?

A: If an officer believes you're driving under the influence of a controlled substance, they will conduct a field sobriety test and may consult with a drug recognition expert. If officers establish probable cause, they will bring you to a precinct and ask your permission to draw your blood for testing. If officers have reason to believe you're under the influence of a controlled substance, they can get a search warrant for a blood draw from a judge.

In a serious injury crash, if law enforcement suspects that the driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol, officers will apply for a search warrant to draw and test the driver's blood.

It's important to know that Driving Under the Influence IS a criminal offense in Oregon and those driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs can be arrested and jailed for DUII-Drugs.

While DUII-Alcohol is generally when a driver's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08 or more, there is not the same threshold for marijuana or other drugs.

The threshold for DUII-Drugs is "impaired to a perceptible degree."

Q: I really want to go to Washington and get high. What's the safest way to do it?

A: Get a designated driver, take public transit, or plan to stay the night in Washington.

Q: Can I ride my bike to Washington to smoke some weed?

A: Yes, but you can still get a DUII-Drugs while riding a bicycle.

Q: Will the Feds arrest me in Washington if I buy some weed?

A: Marijuana is still a "Schedule I Drug" under federal law and marijuana possession and sale remains illegal under federal law. The Portland Police Bureau cannot predict or control the enforcement activities of federal authorities.