High on the top of the Burnside Bridge in Portland, they gathered, uniting to celebrate the legalization of recreational marijuana use in their state.
A large group of people collected at the bridge Tuesday night, waiting for the stroke of midnight when Oregon’s Measure 91 went into effect. The state now allows recreational use for people 21 and over, growing of up to four marijuana plants and giving small amounts as gifts. (Since early this year, District of Columbia residents have been allowed to possess, grow and, in the privacy of their own homes, smoke marijuana.)
With the Oregon “gifting law” in mind, growers and enthusiasts decided to unite for a “BYOW” party, passing out their now legal product to everyone old enough. Organized by Russ Belville, along with the Portland chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the “Burnside Burn” was a chance for pot enthusiasts to celebrate their new freedom together.
“I am no longer a criminal in my home state!” Belville Tweeted at midnight.
— Kristen Van Dyke (@kristenKOIN6) July 1, 2015
— Erik Crow (@ErikPaulsGuitar) July 1, 2015
— Beth Nakamura (@bethnakamura) July 1, 2015
I'm in line for free marijuana. What a day to be alive. #BurnsideBurn
— Ricky Ross (@Barmishmar) July 1, 2015
Though pot is now legal for use, there are still legal hurdles to climb before a marijuana market is up and running as it is in Colorado. There are also still laws inhibiting completely worry-free pot smoking, including employers with anti-drug policies.
“For us it’s like the end of the Civil War, but we still have reconstruction and Jim Crow to go through,” Belville said in a phone interview.
It is still currently illegal to buy or sell marijuana in Oregon. However, thanks to recent legislation, starting Oct. 1 people will be allowed to buy some products from medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, Oregon Live reported. A connected bill also established a sales tax for marijuana.
One tricky federal law, which has been a problem in Colorado, prohibits banks from providing financial services for marijuana growers, processors and sellers, who as a result have to deal in cash. Business owners from Oregon have been in Washington recently lobbying congress to fix that problem, something Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) said Tuesday he hopes happens soon.
“Oregon can be a textbook example of how to do it right,” he said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Portland headquarters.
Oregon now becomes the fourth state to legalize weed, after Washington, Colorado and Alaska. After Washington, D.C., legalized private use and gifting of marijuana, the District had its own pot giveaway earlier this year when people lined up around the block to receive free seeds.
The celebrations continue in Oregon through the week with “Weed the People” happening on Friday. Expected to draw 3,000 people to Portland’s MCF Craft Brewing Systems, the event is another sharing extravaganza allowing growers to display their work and users to — well, you know.
Josh Taylor, the event organizer, told The Post that while he didn’t go out to celebrate Tuesday night, he “will be smoking at some point.”