Some Police Officers in Oregon Don’t Understand State Marijuana Laws
Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Jun 26, 2021 in Legal News
In Oregon, laws surrounding drug use and possession have changed considerably in recent months. Always the trendsetter, Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973, imposing a fine of $100 for possessing up to one ounce. In February, the state once again turned heads when it became the first to officially decriminalize the possession of small amounts of all substances.
As law enforcement officials adjust to these new laws, there is some confusion about policing drug use. How they go about arresting individuals and filing charges has completely changed, and so have the punishments that judges may issue for offenses involving drugs. Due to the widespread use of marijuana and other drugs, Oregonians are now charged based on how much they possess, rather than what they possess. This has led to a shift in the pursuit and resolution of both civil and criminal cases.
While you might think that the authorities would be the first to have a handle on revised statutes and enforcement policies, that hasn’t been the case. The situation of each individual apprehended by law enforcement for drug possession is unique, but you should be mindful of these concerns as they may be pertinent to your personal injury claim.
Key Findings from “Dazed and Confused: Police Experiences Enforcing Oregon’s New Marijuana Laws”
In February 2021, Portland State University researchers Kris Henning and Greg Stewart released a report titled Dazed and Confused: Police Experiences Enforcing Oregon’s New Marijuana Laws, featuring the experiences of 301 officers from Bend Police Department, Redmond Police Department, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, and Klamath County Sheriff’s Office. Officers overwhelmingly agreed that Oregon’s marijuana laws were unclear and difficult to understand. Therefore, a significant number stopped enforcing them.
Specifically, the report revealed the following findings:
- In the past three years, over 90% of participants felt that illegal, out-of-state shipments of marijuana had risen.
- Over 90% of participants say that marijuana-related driving has increased among adults and juveniles.
- Over 60% of participants felt Oregon’s marijuana laws made it challenging to determine if someone had violated the law.
Oregon voters voted in favor of Measure 91, which legalized recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older, in 2014. Over the next few years, state laws regarding marijuana and drug use underwent significant changes. Oregon’s liquor control commission adopted stricter licensing guidelines in 2018. The following year, the legislature gave the commission more control over issuing licenses to produce marijuana.
Where Are Marijuana Offenses Still Charged in Oregon?
Marijuana offenses are still prosecuted today but incur different penalties than before 2014. Driving while intoxicated can still lead to being arrested, as does the illegal possession or use of marijuana or the illegal growing, processing, or distribution of marijuana.
Police Confused Over Oregon Marijuana Laws
Why do the police find these laws so confusing? Several members expressed the opinion that they were purposely crafted to discourage officers from enforcing them. Survey respondents said they were confused about medical cannabis laws versus recreational laws. Moreover, they talked about it being hard to determine if a person had an illegal amount of drugs or whether or not the drugs were purchased on the market from a legally authorized retailer.
Roadside interactions between officers and members of the public are frequently marred by this lack of clarity. Police said it could be challenging to verify the validity of documents proving a person’s possession of large amounts of marijuana as lawful. Additionally, they found it nearly impossible to analyze whether an Oregon driver carrying large quantities of marijuana is leaving the state because offenders often claim the product is hemp, not marijuana.
Protect Your Legal Rights and Interests with a Portland Injury Attorney
Police confusion over marijuana laws may give drivers under the influence of intoxicants the impression that they can avoid criminal charges. Furthermore, if a driver’s intoxication results in an accident, and the officer fails to report it, a victim may be unable to support their personal injury claim and pursue a fair settlement for their losses. This is exactly why retaining the services of Rizk Law personal injury lawyers is so important.
Due to the many factors involved in personal injury claims, having a strong legal team to back you up is crucial. Whether you have questions about your specific case or need help navigating the system, we are here to help. If you think you may have a legitimate claim, speak with an attorney who understands the complexities of Oregon personal injury and negligence laws. To discuss your case in confidence, contact us to receive your free case evaluation by calling (503) 245-5677 or completing our contact form today.