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article imageOregon medical pot dispensaries prepare to open to public

By Nathan Salant     Sep 29, 2015 in Health
Portland - Medical marijuana advocates have long promoted the drug's medicinal properties and have carried the day in 23 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized its use.
But Oregon has gone one giant step further.
On Wednesday, all adults will be able to buy marijuana at more than 200 of the state's medical marijuana dispensaries whether they have a prescription or not, according to the Associated Press.
Oregon, which approved the sale of medical marijuana in 1998, voted in November to allow sales to the general public for recreational use, and the initiative takes effect Thursday.
But whether and how sales to the public will impact patients who rely on marijuana to help them withstand the side effects of chemotherapy or to help fight glaucoma, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other ailments is unknown.
"It's going to be a surprise for everybody," said Lois Pariseau of Gras Cannabis of Portland, a dispensary that opened just four months ago.
"It's very important for everyone to really read the rules, and follow the law to a T," she said.
More than 200 of Oregon's 345 pot dispensaries have applied to the Oregon Health Authority for permission to sell to recreational users, the AP said.
"We're really nervous," said Anthony Taylor, president of the nonprofit patient advocacy group Compassionate Oregon.
"The dispensaries might sell all the marijuana to recreational people and the patients will be left without their medicine," he said, adding that the increased demand could cause prices to rise, too.
Recreational sales will be tax-free until January while Oregon finishes setting up a regulatory process for recreational marijuana.
A 25 percent tax on retail sales is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4, the AP said.
So, what are the rules for buying recreational pot in Oregon?
Buyers must be at least 21 with a valid, government-issued photo ID and are limited to a quarter-ounce of buds per day, but baked goods containing marijuana and other marijuana-infused products will not be available for recreational purchase this year, the AP said.
Ten Oregon cities and two counties will not allow recreational sales of marijuana before January, including Douglas and Harney counties and the cities of Gresham, Brownsville, John Day, Junction City, La Grande, Reedsport and Sherwood.
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