Oregon becomes fourth US state to legalise marijuana

Hundreds gather and light up in Portland to celebrate the law coming into effect

Marijuana enthusiasts gather after midnight to celebrate the legalisation of recreational use of marijuana in Portland, Oregon. Photograph: Steve Dipaola/Reuters

Marijuana enthusiasts gather after midnight to celebrate the legalisation of recreational use of marijuana in Portland, Oregon. Photograph: Steve Dipaola/Reuters

 

Crowds counted down the minutes to midnight then lit up joints as smoking marijuana became legal in Oregon on Wednesday and the legalisation movement spread to a fourth US state.

Hundreds gathered on the Burnside Bridge in Portland and smoked under the glow of a neon sign, marking the moment that the law allowing recreational use, backed by voters in November, came into effect.

The legislation opens the way for shops to sell marijuana by next year, though a Bill headed to the governor’s desk would allow bans on retail sales in cities and counties where at least 55 per cent of voters voted against legal weed.

Similar legalisation initiatives that have ushered in retail pot shops are already in force in Washington state and Colorado, reflecting a shifting landscape for a drug that remains illegal under federal law. Alaska, which also voted to legalise marijuana, hopes for pot shops in 2016.

About half of US states allow marijuana for medical use. A legalisation campaign is getting under way in California, where voters in 2010 rejected legal weed. Maine lawmakers blocked legalisation last month.

– (Reuters)