: Ashley Anderson

Oregon Cannabis 101

June 14, 2021

Recreational cannabis may be legal in Oregon, but that doesn’t mean anything goes when it comes to consumption.  

In 1973 Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis for anyone over 21, and recreational sales became legal in the state on Oct. 1, 2015. While legal marijuana is a booming industry in Oregon, there are still a few restrictions that enthusiasts or newcomers should know about before partaking. Just like anything worth enjoying to the max, it’s critical to know the rules for the safest and best experience.  

On private property or in a private residence, consumers may possess up to 8 ounces of usable cannabis. Ask your budtender at any retailer for friendly guidance. (Photo by Ashley Anderson)

The Basics

Cannabis possession and consumption are both restricted to those aged 21 and over. While the medical regulations bend to accommodate adolescent patients, the recreational law is firm in its age regulation.  

There are also limits to what cannabis consumers can purchase at one time or be in possession of while in public. Here’s a quick look at what’s legal in Oregon 

Consumers of legal age may publicly possess

  • 1 ounce of usable cannabis (i.e., dried flower, prerolls, blunts, etc.)  
  • 16 ounces of cannabis concentrates  
  • 1 ounce of extracts from licensed manufacturers/dispensaries (i.e., dabs such as wax, shatter, sugar, or oil cartridges, etc.) 
  • 16 ounces of cannabis edibles in solid form (i.e., cookies, brownies, gummies, etc.) 
  • 72 ounces of cannabis edibles in liquid form (i.e., beverages) 


A customer cannot purchase more than the following amounts at any one time or within one day: 

  • 1 ounce of usable cannabis  
  • 5 grams of cannabis concentrates or extracts 
  • 16 ounces of solid cannabis edibles 
  • 72 ounces of liquid cannabis products 
  • 10 cannabis seeds 
  • 4 immature cannabis plants (per household) 

These regulations adjust marginally for household possession. On private property or in a private residence, consumers may possess up to 8 ounces of usable cannabis, but note: All other private possession restrictions mirror public possession restrictions. And the rules vary only slightly for registered Oregon Medical Marijuana Program card holders.  

Before you visit a retailer (such as Oregon Coast Cannabis in Manzanita), bring cash, your government-issued ID and confirm their hours of operation. (Photo by Justin Bailie)

Cannabis Consumer Retail Etiquette

Oregon is renowned for our locally owned and operated boutique cannabis retailers, but to get the most out of your retail experience, there are a few things to know before your first visit.  

The primary requirement is your valid, government-issued ID, which you will be asked to present upon arrival.  

Since the cannabis industry is not yet federally regulated, all retailers operate on a cash-only basis. Because of this, many retail waiting rooms are equipped with ATMs, but consumers can avoid heavy transaction fees by arriving with their paper money already in their wallets. Remember to keep a few singles available for customary tipping, since retail staff — known as budtenders — are known for providing expert advice, wherever you are on your journey.   

Arriving at the retailer with your own exit bag (a cannabis retail-specific bag with a child-safe lock mechanism) is another pro tip that can save you some change in the long run. Oregon’s ban on single-use plastic bags means budtenders are obligated to charge customers for these child-safe exit bags, and the bags are required in order to carry your purchase out of the shop. By keeping the exit bag from your previous retailer visit handy, you can eliminate plastic waste and ensure you don’t have to learn how to unlock a variety of store-specific exit bags every time you visit a new shop. 

Finally, cannabis laws dictate that cannabis retailers limit their hours of operation from anytime between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., but shops are allowed to maintain hours anywhere within that time frame, so avoid any disappointment by staying aware of your preferred retailers’ hours of operation. For licensed retail locations, see Oregon’s comprehensive statewide cannabis retailer database. 

Farma in Portland is one of many Oregon cannabis retailers. Across Oregon, public areas are strictly off limits when it comes to consuming weed — regardless of perceived discretion. (Photo by Ashley Anderson)

How and Where to Consume

Although recreational cannabis is legal in Oregon, public consumption is not, so carefully consider your options before partaking in your legitimately obtained Oregon herbs. City parks, riverfront promenades and urban metroscapes may all seem like amiable smoking areas, but any public-use area is strictly off limits when it comes to consuming weed — regardless of perceived discretion.  

Travelers should avoid consuming in their cars as well; Oregon’s penalties for driving while intoxicated are severe. Driving while under the influence of cannabis is a Class A misdemeanor that can be attached to a prison sentence of up to one year. If convicted, a person could face a fine of up to $6,250 and lose their driving privileges. It’s also a federal offense to cross state lines while in possession of recreational marijuana, regardless of its legality in either state. At Portland International Airport, the TSA will call the Port Police if there’s a report of marijuana at the checkpoint.   

It’s important to know that there are many Oregon cities and counties that prohibit licensed recreational marijuana business activity. It’s similar to some states that have “dry” cities or counties where alcohol is not sold, so this means you won’t find cannabis retailers in some areas. Possession regulations, however, are consistent throughout the state. It’s best to research the rules in place at your destination before you go.   

Cannabis-Friendly Lodgings

There are a number of cannabis-friendly lodgings across Oregon, as well as private cannabis clubs peppered throughout the metro areas. While many hotels prohibit smoking, others have designated smoke-friendly areas or fees specific to in-room “smoke cleaning.” Travelers may want to double-check that their preferred lodgings are smoker-friendly.  

Cannabis Buses and Tours

Another place to safely and legally partake other than your own home is on a cannabis bus tour in Oregon. Some offer city tours — including stops at retailers, food carts and other attractions — while others may be stationed outside a special private event like an orchard wedding. You might also find cannabis buses stationed outside of retailers deployed as mobile smoking lounges. By law, all cannabis buses are required to be well-ventilated, with the driver in their own compartment. 

Cannabis Delivery

For cannabis enthusiasts who are homebound or otherwise unable to visit a dispensary, cannabis delivery is an option. These services operate similarly to dispensaries: Customers are required to show a photo ID in order to purchase, either via upload or at the time of delivery, and all of Oregon’s purchase limits apply. Customers 21 year of age and older can choose their products via online menus and ordering systems, and like retailers, these services accept cash only. The online shops offer a comprehensive range of products and are typically available during normal retailer business hours (no more than one delivery per day). If you’re staying with family or friends at a private residence cannabis deliveries are allowed, but if you’re at a hotel or another short-term lodging, you’re out-of-luck, you’ll need to visit a cannabis retailer in the flesh. But many retailers allow consumers to order in advance online and then just pick up their order in person. 

Bottom Line

Wherever you find yourself in Oregon, there are safe and legitimate boundaries to your cannabis consumption that will keep your trip and your stash secure. Knowing the acceptable ways to enhance your sojourn with a bit of legal marijuana will ensure an excellent experience for all, whatever your choice of scenery or greenery. 

About The

Brianna Wheeler
Brianna Wheeler is an award-winning essayist in Portland. Her creative nonfiction has been featured in the literary journals Moving Parts, Midnight and Indigo and The Nasiona. She is a frequent contributor to Weedmaps, NW Kids and Proper.com, as well as the cannabis columnist for Willamette Week. When she's not at her desk, you can find Brianna painting portraits of her favorite drag queens, gardening, playing one of her seven musical instruments or enjoying a road trip with her husband and son.