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If you would like a copy of an archived E-Alert emailed to you, please contact Traci Ray by email or phone at 503-276-2115.
By José Klein
Yesterday, Oregon voters passed Measure 91. As a result, Oregon followed Colorado and Washington to become the third state to legalize recreational usage of marijuana under state law.
Under the new law, the bulk of which takes effect on July 1, 2015, individuals may possess up to four mature marijuana plants, eight ounces of marijuana flowers, and 72 ounces of marijuana products in liquid form without fear of prosecution under state drug laws. The law further tasks the Oregon Liquor Control Commission with establishing a regime for the legal distribution and taxation of the drug. Taxation rates under the law are set at $35 per ounce on all marijuana flowers, $10 per ounce on all marijuana leaves, and $5 per immature marijuana plant.
For Oregon employers, the passage of legalized recreational marijuana provides more grounds for reflection than reaction. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. After the passage of Measure 91, Oregon employers are not obligated to accommodate employee usage of marijuana, even if it is for medical reasons and it occurs off-duty; however, employers must accommodate any underlying disability.
That said, as a practical matter, it behooves employers to consider their key stake holders. For those employers who do not maintain safety sensitive positions, it may be the case that the pools of potential qualified employees, as well as dedicated patrons, skew in favor of the new law. In such circumstances, employers may reasonably decide to adjust marijuana policies to prohibit only on-duty impairment rather than off duty usage. Employers should consult with an employment attorney to develop a comprehensive policy that meet the particular needs of the workplace.