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Oregon Partakes: Recreational Pot Becomes Legal Thursday

Customers browse samples at Shango Cannabis shop, after the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales began at midnight in Portland, Ore., Thursday.

At the stroke of midnight, it became legal for Oregon dispensaries to sell marijuana to anyone over 21 years old. The state has also been allowing residents to wipe old pot charges from their criminal records.

Oregon becomes the third U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana sales, joining Colorado and Washington.

From the Northwest News Network, Chris Lehman reports for our Newscast unit:

"For the past three months, adults could grow or use marijuana in Oregon, but until now there was no place to legally buy it, unless you had a medical marijuana card. That's changing – with more than 230 medical marijuana dispensaries being given the go-ahead by Oregon lawmakers to sell pot to the general public."

As of today, Oregon residents can buy dried marijuana, along with seeds and immature plants, Lehman reports for NW News. A wider range of products, including edibles, will go on sale in 2016.

In recent weeks, Oregon has also allowed residents who have faced marijuana charges in the past to expunge them from their records. While that provision (which involves a five-page form) applies to low-level offenses, The New York Times reports that in 2016, "more serious felony marijuana convictions of the past, like manufacturing, will be eligible for record sealing as well."

Oregon voters approved Measure 91 last November; the legislation takes effect after it was tweaked by the Legislature over the summer.

Those tweaks set today as the start of legal sales; they also changed how Oregon will tax marijuana, shifting from producers to the retail level.

Under the new law, cities and counties can vote to bar marijuana producers and retailers from operating there – in some cases, until a local election can be held to decide the issue. According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, 24 cities and 9 of the state's 36 counties have enacted bans.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

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