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In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Oregon Lawmakers Consider Marijuana Legalization

National Institute on Drug Abuse
Oregon voters could choose whether to legalize marijuana next year.

First, it was Washington and Colorado. Now, Oregon could be on the list of states where recreational marijuana use is legal.

No one expects Oregon lawmakers to simply pass a bill to immediately do that. Far more likely? The legislature puts a measure on the ballot next fall that lets Oregon voters decide.

And activists like Anthony Johnson testified before a legislative panel on Friday that they're gathering signatures in case the legislature doesn't act.

"We have filed an initiative that is really a back-up plan because we do believe it's really important for Oregon to help lead the way in ending cannabis prohibition," he said.

Johnson's initiative would legalize pot for adults and would have the state regulate it in much the same way that it controls liquor.

If lawmakers do go ahead with putting something on the ballot, they would do so in their upcoming February legislative session.