It is illegal in Oregon to manufacture, deliver, grow or cultivate marijuana — or to possess any quantity. Knowingly maintaining or visiting a place where people are using, storing or selling any amount of marijuana is also illegal.
Oregon criminal law defines marijuana as all parts of the marijuana plant, whether growing or not, the resin from any part of the plant, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of the plant or its resin. This includes hashish and seeds that can germinate. Mature stalks of the plant are not included in the definition.
Penalties for marijuana offenses depend on the amount of marijuana involved and which acts are committed. Marijuana is measured in either grams or ounces. There are 28 grams in an ounce.
Although Oregon has not legalized marijuana, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is a violation with a presumptive $650 fine. Possession of more than one ounce may be a more serious crime if it occurs within 1000 feet of a school. Possession of more than one ounce but less than four ounces is a Class B misdemeanor. Possession of more than four ounces is a Class B felony.
If you are convicted of possessing more than an ounce of marijuana, and you have not been convicted of a drug offense before, you may ask for a "conditional discharge." This means the judge will place you on probation for up to five years with the understanding that if you obey all the terms and conditions of your probation, the charges will be dismissed at the end of the probationary period. If the charges are dismissed, you may truthfully say that you were never convicted of that charge.
Possession of "marijuana product" (defined as something other than leaves, stems and flowers) can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount alleged.
Selling marijuana or even giving it away can have serious consequences. The law is different between giving away marijuana and selling it. Oregon law defines "delivery" as the "actual or attempted transfer" of marijuana. The definition also includes possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver it, whether or not there is any consideration for the transfer. ("Consideration" is any item of value, such as money.)
Delivery of less than five grams of marijuana for nothing in return is a violation punishable by a fine of $500 up to a maximum of $1000. Again, this is not considered a criminal conviction. Delivery of at least five grams but less than one ounce, for nothing in return, is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a $,6250 fine.
If you sell even a very small amount of marijuana, it is a serious felony. Delivery of any amount of marijuana for payment or other consideration is a Class B felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
If you are over 17-years-old and deliver any amount of marijuana to a minor who is at least three years younger than you (whether or not you receive something for it), you have committed a Class A felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $375,000 fine. There also are stronger penalties for the delivery or possession of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school.
Manufacturing any amount of marijuana is a very serious offense. "Manufacturing" means growing even one plant, or packaging, repackaging, labeling or relabeling marijuana. Manufacturing marijuana is a Class B felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Finally, knowingly maintaining, visiting or even staying at a place where people are using, storing or selling marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $6,250 fine. However, if the amount of marijuana is one ounce or less, and it is just kept or used on the premises, this offense is a violation punishable only by a fine. The actual amount of time you may be sentenced for a felony offense is determined by the Felony Sentencing Guidelines. These guidelines consider the severity of the conduct and the person's criminal history.
In addition to fines and jail sentences, your driver's license could be suspended for delivery, manufacture or possession of any quantity of marijuana. If you used a vehicle (car or boat) to transport or hide any amount of marijuana over an ounce, the vehicle may be taken away. Also, your property can be taken away if you know that it is being used to store, sell or grow more than one ounce of marijuana. It also may be taken away if you bought it from marijuana sales.
Although marijuana is illegal in Oregon, there are certain narrow exceptions under what is commonly known as the Medical Marijuana Act. A person who has a registry identification card issued by the Oregon Health Division and that person's designated caregiver may possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for medicinal purposes. You may get a registry identification card after completing the application process with a licensed physician. If your attending physician has documented in writing that you have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, and that the medical use of marijuana may ease the symptoms or effects of that condition, you can apply for a registry identification card. Possession of that card does not allow you or the caregiver to drive while under the influence of marijuana, to use marijuana in public, or to deliver any amount of marijuana for any consideration. If you do not have a registry identification card, you may still have a defense to criminal charges if you can prove that the marijuana is for medical use, that you would qualify for a card, and that the amount of marijuana involved was within the limits of the law. This is a very complex law, and you should discuss it carefully with a qualified attorney to determine if it applies in your situation.
Legal Editor: Greg Scholl, October 2013