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No, Josh Marquis, A Marijuana Ticket Ain’t Like A Speeding Ticket


oregon measure 91 legalization new approachOn Friday, Clatsop County DA Josh Marquis, the leading spokesperson for law enforcement’s opposition to marijuana legalization, debated Rep. Earl Blumenauer about Oregon’s Measure 91 at the Salem City Club (fast-forward to 20:00 to skip intros):

click here to watch the video

Throughout the debate, Marquis tried to minimize the need for legalization by repeatedly referencing Oregon’s current marijuana decriminalization of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.

Marquis, who has become a leading spokesman of the opposition campaign, said Oregon already showed how to deal with marijuana in 1973 when it became the first state to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of the drug.

As a result, Marquis noted, most law enforcement actions against marijuana users are noncriminal citations equivalent to a speeding ticket.

“You didn’t get a free ride in a police car. You didn’t have a criminal record,” Marquis said. “That’s what less than an ounce of marijuana is in Oregon.”

He characterized this issuing of tickets for pot possession as costing taxpayers “zero”, as if counties printing tickets, cops’ time writing them, and courts’ time collecting them are free.  It’s all part of his attempt to deflate proponents’ claims that marijuana prohibition negatively affects average cannabis consumers; Marquis also likes to say that “anyone can get a medical marijuana card in Oregon” and that one would have to go out of their way to actually get a marijuana ticket.

So I felt that this recent comment from a listener of mine was apropos to share:

I hate when they try to use the decriminalization argument because i believed it until this happened. IT IS NOT the same in Oregon to get a parking ticket vs. a pot ticket for having less than an ounce. We got pulled over and as a passenger i had an 1/8 of weed in my purse that the officer could just smell and asked for it. So not only did i have to give up my weed, i also got a ticket for a $1,000 and a court date. I could either choose jail time, or they could took it down to $500 or go through a drug class and pay the courts $100 and then $50 for the class AND be on bench probation for 6 months. Thank goodness we just had that money because I know a lot of other people who don’t have extra money like that. I also had to take two days off from work to go back to forest grove, a couple hours away from where we live, pay for gas, to first go to court and then go to this class where the teacher pretty much laughed that I, a 31 year old at the time, had to go to this class to mostly learn about alcohol. That is a whole lot more than just paying a parking ticket. So until it is legal it is not actually decriminalized.


About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.


  1. In 2004 I was observed smoking a joint outside a bar in Astoria. I had a half inch roach. I got a ticket for possession of less than an ounce. All in all, this “traffic ticket” for a half inch roach cost me over $1000 out of pocket.
    Josh is correct that pot was decriminalized in the 70s. At first the maximum fine was $100 for less than 100 grams. In large part due to insistent yapping by him personally and others like him that penalty was soon raised to its current level: $650 fine; or 30 days in the hole and a $1250 fine if the offense occurs within 1000 feet of a (very loosely defined) “school.”
    In short (and I do mean short) Josh Marquis is a liar.

  2. They should be using the term hemp. That would be more accurate. Just because it has a little THC on it doesn’t mean its good at all. I can’t imagine she would prefer her easily home grown crop of psychoactive hemp over top shelf chronic at the store.

  3. Have you ever looked at the DEA charter? Their internal policy requires disregarding facts that do not support their ideological position. These people get fired for telling the truth. It is possible that there are also “unofficial” pressures exerted on them as well.

    So, what do you expect to happen?

  4. They know most of the OMMP harvest is diverted for profit. You can’t change that reality

  5. The quote at the bottom is misleading. Legally, less than 1 oz is exactly the same as a speeding ticket. The fine is not outside of the range of more serious speeding violations either. Possession of less than 1 oz does not show up on criminal back ground checks- that is what is meant when one says, “its the same as a speeding ticket.”

  6. To get the card (in Oregon) you need to pay for two doctor appointments in a year (one to renew). Then you need to pay $150-$200 to go to the MMJ clinic. Then for the card it is $200 plus another $50 if you don’t grow at your own home. If you move or lose your card you have to pay the full amount again. The last part angers me the most. Does OHP charge for a replacement card? Do they charge for a lost Oregon Trail card? Not that I’m aware of. After a few years with a card it adds up. I’m tempted to just take my chances with the fine.

  7. Is there nothing this guy doesn’t misunderstand? He’s a DA. He either can’t comprehend basic facts about proposed law, or he lies about them. He either can’t understand basic economic facts, or he lies about them. Again, he’s either grossly inept or hopelessly corrupt. Either way, the people need a new DA.

  8. Perception… some people’s idea of quality are different. Basing it on the good old days when all you needed was a pot, a seed and some water yeah his wife can grow. For many decades that was it for the most part but now growing specific strains to certain level quality specs is a whole other thing of course. Some people just do not understand the new world sciences.

  9. If i am not mistaken, this is the same dude who said that growing pot is easy, his wife in fact could grow quality pot; first off, not only is it not easy, it is work, work. I am just about to go and flush my plants, I am dreading it. He equated it to growing tomatoes, and in that respect perhaps it is somewhat easy to grow tomatoes, but does he really only use the tomatoes that his wife (not him) grows all year round, is it really enough? And does he also make all of his own ketchup and salsa and does he grow all the lettuce he uses and peppers and on and on and on? Obviously not. Furthermore, this euphemism, he also believes so much in decriminalization, where do i get my weed from if it is still decriminalized, oh ah, I mean illegal. From a drug dealer who worst case scenario works for the cartels or a ruthless gang. Thank God I live in CO, where things are better, yet not ideal.

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