Oregon marks 2 year anniversary of legalized pot

Oregon legalized recreational pot in July 2015

FILE--This April 21, 2011, file photo shows marijuana growing in the home of two medical marijuana patients in Medford, Ore. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It has been 2 years since recreational marijuana became legal in Oregon.

On July 1, 2015 the state of Oregon joined Colorado, Washington, Washington D.C. and Alaska in legalizing recreational marijuana. Those over the age of 21 with a valid ID can legally carry one ounce of pot and can possess up to 8 ounces and 4 plants at home.

After the legalization, early recreational sales started October 2015 at Oregon Health Authority registered dispensaries. Shortly after, the sale of edibles was allowed.

Mark Pettinger, spokesperson at Recreational Marijuana Program with OLCC, talks to KOIN 6 News, June 30, 2017. (KOIN)
Mark Pettinger, spokesperson at Recreational Marijuana Program with OLCC, talks to KOIN 6 News, June 30, 2017. (KOIN)

Mark Pettinger, the spokesperson at Recreational Marijuana Program with Oregon Liquor Control Commission, told KOIN 6 News their licensing system started Jan. 4, 2016, which is when they began accepting applications. It wasn’t until October 2016 they began licensing OLCC retailers.

Even 2 years later, there is still a lot of interest to “participate in this industry,” despite some “shake-out,” according to Pettinger.

“Now we’re close to 1,300 licenses that have been issued and close to 3,000 applicants,” Pettinger said.

The amount of licenses and applications is what makes Oregon different than other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. In Washington, there has been a cap on licenses, whereas in Oregon, there’s no barrier.

Business is booming for retailers like Shango Marijuana in Portland.

“There are more products available on the market than there were 6 months ago, there’s more variety of products,” Shango’s Director of Retail Operations Morgan McKee said. “People from all walks of life come in to enjoy the events and enjoy these products and learns and it’s just really cool to see that.”

The latest numbers show Oregon has collected nearly $75 million from taxes on recreational marijuana — 7 times what was originally expected.

In the last 2 years, Pettinger said there have been “lots of surprises.”

After the legalization, the OLCC had to go back and examine rules and regulations in terms of specifics. For example, the OLCC recently approved some rules that will allow for trade show activities, including moving plants for competitions.

While Pettinger said the recreational marijuana industry is by no means perfect and there’s room to grow, he seems proud of where the OLCC is today.

“From January 2016 to now, I’d say we have made pretty good progress with the tools we have and the support we have,” he said.