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Legalization has been making a huge move in the right direction lately. More states than ever have decriminalized the use of medical marijuana, and around half a dozen have actually decriminalized the recreational use of cannabis as well.
This is all well and good, but the truth is that there's a huge difference between decriminalization and legalization. In most "legal" states, the plant we all know and love has been decriminalized.
Legal means that there's no legal recourse for it on a state or national level. Decriminalized means cops won't charge you on a state level, or that the fines are lesser.
A good example of how this can affect state laws is Oregon. So, is marijuana legal in Oregon, or is it just decriminalized?
First off, is marijuana legalized in Oregon?
Yes, yes it is. It's totally legal to possess or use certain amounts of marijuana in Oregon. So, on a state level, it's legal for both recreational purposes and for medical purposes.
However, there are limits to how much you can possess within Oregon state laws. After you pass that limit, you might get into legal trouble. Even so, on a state level, it passes the test for legalization — and that means marijuana is legal in Oregon.
However, there is a small addendum to the issue of legality in Oregon and other decriminalized states.
The question shouldn't be, "Is marijuana legal in Oregon?"
Rather, the question you should be asking is how is it state-legal while being totally illegal on a federal level.
Federally, marijuana is illegalized. That means that if police or the DEA chooses to do so, they can arrest you for marijuana possession, destroy marijuana farms, or even raid dispensaries. Why? Because they can, and they know it's a lucrative thing for them to do.
Once again, the laws are stacked against marijuana users. It seems like the federal government really doesn't care about the perks of marijuana legalization, and are more interested in pushing their own agenda.
So while marijuana may be legal in the state of Oregon, it still comes with its risks — at least until it's decriminalized on a national level. So, while this is progress, there's still a lot that we can do in order to ensure that people can enjoy cannabis safely.