Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

December 9, 2012

Washington could become pot source for neighbors

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.

“If I’m going to drive on the Oregon coast at night, in the driving rain, I want the person on the other side of the road to be completely unimpaired,” Marquis told The Associated Press.

Idaho law officials are also watching what’s happening in Washington state. Unlike Oregon, Idaho has no medical marijuana law and possession in any form is against the law. Simple possession of less than three ounces is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Idaho officials already have their hands full with Idahoans obtaining medical marijuana cards out of state. The Gem State borders three medical marijuana states, a reality that has caused medical marijuana arrests to outpace those of traffickers or other users.

Although Idaho is a largely conservative state, there are pockets defined by borders and demographics that could create new challenges for law enforcement.

One of them is Moscow, home to the University of Idaho campus and more than 11,000 students — just a 10-minute drive to the Washington State University campus in Pullman. More than 70 miles to the north is the busy suburban corridor connecting Spokane, Wash., and the Idaho cities of Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene.

Idaho police say increased arrests for marijuana could intensify stress on county jails and caseloads for county prosecutors.

Idaho State Police Lt. Chris Schenk, says people in north Idaho are joking about so-called “pot tourists” crossing the border to take advantage of Washington’s relaxed law. But he says it’s going to take time to gauge any increases in arrests for possession or driving under the influence.

Oregon has some of the most permissive pot laws in the nation. Possession of less than an ounce will get you the equivalent of a speeding ticket. And for those who want to go the legal route, they can get a medical marijuana card.

Still, obtaining pot in Oregon is not without its hassles, in the eyes of some who use it.

Federal drug agents have been cracking down on some medical marijuana pot growers, alleging they shipped pot out of state. There has also been pressure on dispensaries that have sprung up in Oregon that provide medical marijuana for a fee to cover costs of operation.. Law officials in some counties have raided such operations, saying they are selling pot for profit.

If Washington state sets up a pot supply system, it is likely some Oregon holders of medical marijuana cards will go north for their medicine, advocates say.

In Canada, another Washington neighbor, pot is illegal under federal law. Border enforcement of drug laws is stringent, but enforcement for possession for personal use is relaxed. Grass is smoked openly in parks and at pot cafes in British Columbia. Distribution of medical marijuana to patients with needs deemed legitimate through pot dispensaries is also allowed

A spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Sgt. Duncan Pound, said it is too early to predict what effects legalization in Washington will have.

A marijuana advocate in British Columbia, Jodie Emery, worries Canada might intensify border controls because of Washington’s weed legalization.

Emery also speculates that legalization in Washington could lessen the flow of people traveling to Vancouver, British Columbia to try some “BC Bud.”

“British Columbia does have a lot of tourism for people who want to experience the marijuana culture but that is shifting,” Emery said.

Back in Oregon, the tip sheet to marijuana users issued by Portland police states that possession of less than an ounce has been a “low law enforcement priority for 35 years in Portland and this will not change due to the new Washington law.”

But the advisory also has this caution: If you go to Washington to “buy some weed,” the “Portland Police Bureau cannot predict or control the enforcement activities of federal authorities.”

———

AP Correspondent Todd Dvorak in Boise, Idaho, and AP reporter Nigel Duara in Portland contributed to this report.

 

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Georgia Gun Bill_Stew.jpg Gun carry rights expanded in Ga. under new law

    Criticized by one group as the “guns everywhere” bill, Georgia took a big step Wednesday toward expanding where licensed carriers can take their weapons, with the governor signing a law that allows them in bars without restriction and in some churches, schools and government buildings under certain circumstances.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clemson Spring Game F_Stew.jpg Clemson’s Swinney won’t change after complaint

    Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday he wouldn’t change procedures after the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s letter of complaint expressing concerns about the football program’s connection to the coach’s Christian religion.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1800, Congress approved a bill establishing the Library of Congress.

    April 24, 2014

  • Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says

    A state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America.

    April 23, 2014

  • ‘Piles and piles’ of bodies in South Sudan slaughter

    Gunmen who targeted both children and the elderly left “piles and piles” of bodies — many of those in a mosque — in a provincial capital in South Sudan, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official in the country said Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Obama_Stew.jpg Obama views mudslide scene

    Swooping over a terrain of great sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a mudslide last month, then mourned privately with those who lost loved ones in the destruction.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wall Street_Stew.jpg Earnings and corporate deals lift U.S. stocks

    Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Economy College Gradu_Stew.jpg Job market for college grads better but still weak

    With college commencement ceremonies nearing, the government is offering a modest dose of good news for graduating seniors: The job market is brightening for new grads — a bit.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supreme Court TV On t_Stew.jpg Internet TV case: Justices skeptical, concerned

    Grappling with fast-changing technology, Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether they can protect the copyrights of TV broadcasters to the shows they send out without strangling innovations in the use of the internet.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1791, the 15th president of the United States, James Buchanan, was born in Franklin County, Pa.

    April 23, 2014

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results