Monday, December 11, 2017

Toking in Tacoma? 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 will 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 Washington state works out the various complications of its new law — including the fact that marijuana is still illegal under federal law — neighboring states are watching with curiosity, and perhaps apprehension.

Josh Marquis, district attorney for Oregon's Clatsop County, 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 is 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.

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