What happens if Oregon legalizes possession?

Here’s a possible future issue: If Oregon legalizes marijuana possession, will consumers be able to buy pot in Washington and bring it back home to Portland legally?

The answer is sort of a mixed bag, said Alison Holcomb, criminal justice director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and author of the I-502 initiative that legalized marijuana.

Alison Holcolm (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
Alison Holcomb (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

“It really is just a question of what activities will rise to the level of a federal concern,” Holcomb said.

If it’s for personal use, someone from Portland could easily come over to Vancouver, buy pot legally and then bring it back to Oregon and use it – if possession becomes legal there.

The problem on the federal side is that for a brief second, the driver would be illegally transporting a controlled substance over state lines.

“You don’t have any problems with buying in Washington or possession of marijuana that originated in Washington if it’s legal in Oregon,” Holcomb said. “But it is a federal crime to transport it across state borders.”

Would the feds stake out the borderline on the I-5 and I-205 bridges and start arresting people in that scenario? Probably not, Holcomb said.

They have better things to do.

But there is another problem that could arise.

“From a practical standpoint, the more likely concern would be are you purchasing quantities in Washington and selling them in Oregon?” Holcomb said. “I could see, if people were going back and forth a lot and it was obvious, that it could become an issue for the feds.”