SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Retail sales of recreational marijuana could begin as soon as Oct. 1 in Oregon, sooner than had been expected.
A joint House-Senate legislative committee voted unanimously Thursday to start early sales through existing medical marijuana dispensaries. The measure heads to a vote in the Senate, likely next week.
Under a law approved last year by voters, marijuana use and possession becomes legal July 1. But regulators say it may be almost a year before they start issuing retail licenses. Until then, users would have to grow their own, get it from a friend or buy it on the black market.
Advocates say the early sales measure also will ensure a legal avenue to distribute a large amount of marijuana that's expected from the fall harvest.
"People are eager. People are coming in, asking us a lot of questions. We see people on the street. Everyone's ready, and they're ready to shop in Oregon and not Washington," said Scott Grenfell, owner of Rip City Remedies.
Earlier this year, Rob Patridge, chairman of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, appeared on KGW's Straight Talk, to talk, in part, about his concerns surrounding the possibility of early marijuana sales.
"The federal government has put down a set of guidelines called the Cole Memorandum, which prescripts, basically, that marijuana has to be tracked through the system. I've warned the legislature that they could put the entire medical marijuana system at risk if they allow pot to be sold at one of these medical marijuana dispensaries, because there's no tracking. We don't know where it came from, we don't know necessarily how it got there," said Patridge.