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Almost a year after voting to legalize recreational marijuana, today is the first day that pot sales are legal in Oregon. (As if Portland needed to become more popular.)
But Oregon is still transitioning into a full-fledged marijuana industry, so here are a few things you should know about recreational marijuana sales in the state:
It's Not the Wild Weed West
Although possession and cultivation of recreational pot was legalized in July of this year, Oregon's marijuana laws still limit the amount that a person may possess. Consumers can have up to eight ounces of weed and four plants for personal use.
Dispensaries can begin sales today, and consumers are limited to purchases of a quarter-ounce of weed per day. There are also restrictions on marijuana deliveries that can result in felony convictions. New consumers of edible marijuana products should be especially careful, as labeling rules and regulations are still being decided upon, and it may take consumers time to determine their particular tolerance.
Gimme Tax Shelter
Full commercial regulation won't begin until 2016, so dispensaries are getting a bit of a tax holiday for the next three months. Recreational marijuana sales in Oregon will be untaxed through the rest of this year, but a sales tax of 25% will be added in January if regulators can hammer out the framework for taxing recreational pot.
Just because weed is legal, marijuana remains a highly regulated business. And Oregon, as Colorado and Washington before it, will continue to refine its regulatory scheme. For example, given marijuana's illicit status under federal law, dispensary owners and others in the weed biz are having trouble securing consistent financing and even checking accounts from banks.
Reuters reported that a sizeable line formed outside of a dispensary around midnight last night, with around 40 people vying to be the first to purchase legal weed in Oregon. But folks on both sides of the counter need to remember there are still some restrictions in place, and those restrictions may change over the next few months and years.