As campaign spreads Oregon legalises recreational marijuana

A law allowing recreational use, backed by voters in November, came into effect at midnight, opening the way for marijuana to be sold in shops by next year - though some lawmakers say they will still try to block retail outlets.

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Smoking and growing small amounts of marijuana became legal in Oregon on Wednesday (local time), as a growing legalisation movement spread down the United States' west coast.

A law allowing recreational use, backed by voters in November, came into effect at midnight, opening the way for marijuana to be sold in shops by next year - though some lawmakers say they will still try to block retail outlets.

Similar legislation is already in force in Alaska and Washington State, reflecting a shifting legal landscape for a drug that remains illegal under federal law.

Further down the west coast, legalisation campaigns are also underway in California, while recreational use is already allowed in Colorado and Washington D.C.

"We are thrilled with the end of adult marijuana prohibition, but we are far from where we need to be," said Russ Belville, from the Portland chapter of pro-marijuana group NORML, on Tuesday before the law came into effect.

Oregon residents aged 21 and older can now smoke privately, grow up to four plants and possess up to eight ounces (227 grams) at home and one ounce outside home, the Liquor Control Commission said.

Driving while high remains illegal and pot cannot be transported out of state, even to neighbouring Washington, where retailing started last year, the commission said.

Some lawmakers remain opposed and are pushing for legislation to allow municipalities where at least 55 percent of voters opposed the November ballot to ban marijuana retail outlets, Republican state Senator Ted Ferrioli said on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters

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