SALEM, Ore. (July 8, 2015) – On July 1, marijuana officially became legal in Oregon, effectively nullifying federal prohibition in practice in the Beaver State.
And even as the new law went into effect, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed another bill into law that will take Oregon’s effort to nullify in practice the federal the war on weed to the next level.
As of last Wednesday, it became legal for adults over 21 to possess, use and cultivate marijuana in Oregon. Adults can have up to 8 ounces of cannabis inside their homes and 1 once outside. They can also grow up to four plants. A regulatory structure for commercial retail sales and manufacturing should be up and running sometime next year.
All of this remains illegal under federal law. Of course, the feds lack any constitutional authority to prohibit or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Oregon joins a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition. It joins Colorado, Washington state and Alaska in legalizing marijuana completely, and 23 states now allow cannabis for medical use. With nearly half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more. The feds need state cooperation to fight the “drug war,” and that has rapidly evaporated in the last few years with state legalization, practically nullifying the ban.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
As legalization for personal marijuana use went into effect last week, Gov. Brown signed HB3400 into law. It not only creates a structure to implement a commercial cannabis market in the state, it also reforms the legal system. According to Drug Policy Alliance the new law contains broad sentencing reform provisions extending well beyond the simple elimination of criminal penalties on personal possession and cultivation.
“The new law reduces most marijuana felonies to misdemeanors or lesser felonies with significantly reduced sentences. These changes allow eligible persons with prior marijuana convictions to have their convictions set aside, sentences reduced, and records sealed.”
More than 78,000 people convicted under state law could become eligible for the set-aside process.
“With this new law, Oregon is not only taking a bold step forward to end the war on drugs, but is actively addressing and reversing the terrible consequences of that war,” Drug Policy Alliance Director of Marijuana Law and Policy Tamar Todd said.
While legalization in Oregon primarily impacts Oregonians, its impact will ripple across the country. The feds run, fund and perpetuate the “war on drugs.” Every state that opts out erodes federal power and hamstrings its enforcement efforts. By opening up commerce, reducing state penalties and encouraging freedom, states like Oregon wash away the foundation of federal power, further nullifying unconstitutional federal prohibition in practice.
When enough states simply say, “No!” to federal marijuana prohibition, we will finally have “drug peace.”