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Clackamas County lightens up on marijuana charges

In anticipation of Measure 91, many charges will be dismissed

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Twelve of the 39 pending marijuana cases in Clackamas County will be dismissed under a new policy announced by the district attorney's office.Good news for anyone facing a criminal marijuana charge in Clackamas County: Your case may be dismissed, or the charges may be reduced.

Clackamas County District Attorney John S. Foote announced Monday that in light of the passage of Measure 91, which legalizes recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and over, county courts will begin processing marijuana charges with respect to “the will of the voters.”

"Out of a concern for fairness, the office will begin treating all pending and new marijuana cases under the rules of Measure 91," Foote said.

That means that of the 39 marijuana-related cases currently pending in the county, 12 could be dismissed — even though adults won’t be able to legally possess marijuana until July 1, 2015. Some of the remaining cases will have the level of punishment reduced.

Foote said that all aggravating or mitigating factors that justify either continued prosecution or dismissal will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Counties throughout Oregon are grappling with how to handle marijuana-related cases that will be null or lessened when Measure 91 goes into effect next year. Multnomah County has taken a similar, if more extreme, stance by dismissing all cases involving activity that will be legal as of July.

Until the law takes effect, law enforcement agencies in Clackamas County will not change their response to marijuana use and possession and will continue to treat marijuana as an illegal drug. Search and seizure tactics will remain the same, Foote said.