PORTLAND, Ore. — Now that marijuana is legal in neighboring Washington state, Portland police are offering some helpful advice to Oregon pot users. Sure, you can go over to Washington state to "smoke some weed," a police advisory states, but you might get arrested for driving under the influence if you're pulled over coming home, even if you're on a bike.
And if you are among the 55,000 people with an Oregon medical marijuana card, Portland police say you'll be able to get your allowed amount of medicine in Washington state. Still, even though you now can't get busted for toking in Tacoma or elsewhere in Washington (though you could get a ticket for public use), it will be a year before selling or buying it is legal.
As the Evergreen state works out the various complications of its new law — including the fact that marijuana is still illegal under federal law — neighbors of Washington are watching with curiosity, and perhaps some apprehension.
If the federal government doesn't attempt to intervene in the new law, and if Washington state sets up a supply system whose mechanics are yet to be defined, Washington may well become a greater source of pot for users in Oregon and Idaho.
"It would be like a place people go to get cheap beer. We're not talking about medical marijuana. We're talking about people who just want to get high," said Josh Marquis, district attorney for Oregon's Clatsop County.
Marquis is not totally opposed to marijuana. He thinks the federal government should do what Oregon has done: decriminalize possession of small amounts, and allow people with genuine medical needs to have access for treatment.
But one of his greatest concerns, echoed by other law enforcement officials, is people going over to Washington to obtain weed and driving home stoned.