Oregon joined the ranks of US states where it is legal for adults to possess and use cannabis for recreational purposes. To celebrate, the Portland chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) gave away free marijuana samples and seeds during a celebratory event that was held under the west end of Portland’s Burnside Bridge.
The giveaway is more than just a celebration; it is a cause for celebration itself. That is because marijuana will not be available to purchase legally in Oregon before October at the earliest, so that without the free samples that attendees will receive, many event goers might have trouble finding any cannabis with which to ring in the new era of legal marijuana in the state.
The slow-moving process of establishing a regulated market for cannabis sales explains the paradox with which Oregon residents will live for the next year or more, during which time they will be allowed to possess and use something that they cannot legally purchase. The state expects to issue licenses to retail cannabis sellers early next year, with retail stores opening in autumn of 2016.
The interim between official legalization and the first retail stores opening their doors will likely be a boon for black market sales of cannabis and for sales in shops just across the river in Washington State, where recreational cannabis has been legal for over two years and retail shops have been licensed to operate since July of 2014. Organizers of Tuesday’s event, however, would like to curtail both.
“Portland NORML will educate the public and our partners will give away thousands of seeds and hundreds of pounds of marijuana this year so Washington State and the black market do not benefit from our new marijuana legality,”
the group announced.
The seeds, which are being donated by medical marijuana growers in Oregon, may be the best way for NORML to achieve its goal. Oregon law allows individuals to cultivate up to 4 plants, and there is no prohibition of sharing the harvest with others. The hope is that free seeds in the hands of DIY-minded Oregonians will lead to enough cannabis being grown and shared privately that black market and out-of-state purchases will be minimal.
Additional events set to take place in the days immediately following an end to cannabis prohibition include a seed giveaway on July 1 at Stoney Girl Gardens in the Portland Suburb of Clackamas, followed by a general celebration of cannabis called Weed the People, which was held on July 3 in North Portland.
Photos sourced from Twitter and Katu: