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The Desperate Lies of Josh Marquis, Part I: The Prison “Easter Egg”

josh marquis oregon marijuana

(image via oregonlive.com)

You have to feel some sympathy for Josh Marquis.  By all accounts, he’s a decent man and a good district attorney for Clatsop County.  But, unfortunately for him, he’s emerged as the leading voice for law enforcement’s opposition to Measure 91, Oregon’s initiative to legalize marijuana.  That’s a tough position to be in when the state is generally expected to pass legalization, if not in 2014, definitely in 2016, and when one in nine adult Oregonians smoke marijuana monthly.

Since legalization is such a popular idea, it is up to Marquis to sow the seeds of doubt, confusion, and fear so voters will stick with the status quo of prohibition.  Sadly, he’s so blinded by his mission that he’s abandoned a principle that a law enforcement official should always abide by – the truth.

His latest rant against Measure 91 is that it contains an “Easter Egg” nobody is talking about.  (“Easter Egg” is a term used by computer programmers and it refers to a undocumented feature a user can unlock with a secret code.)  On his personal Facebook page, Marquis writes “One ‘Easter egg’ not mentioned is that M-91 takes away ANY criminal penalties for smuggling any amount of weed into a jail or youth prison.”

Wow!  Legalizing marijuana under Measure 91 means that you can smuggle a pound of weed into prison with impunity?  Why would legalizers put such a devastatingly awful provision in an initiative?  What good would anyone ascribe to allowing prisoners mass quantities of weed?  (Fewer fights? Better appreciation of the chow?  Totally awesome rounds of Hacky Sack in the yard?)

What Marquis refers to is Section 55 in Measure 91, which reads:

Possession of marijuana in correctional facility prohibited.

(1)          It is unlawful for any person to possess or engage in the use of marijuana items in a correctional facility as defined in ORS 162.135 or in a youth correction facility as defined in ORS 162.135.

(2)          A violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class B violation.

Well, if you read that, it sure looks like he’s right.  A mere ticket for possessing or using marijuana in a prison is what Measure 91 proposes.  Except for one little detail.  Measure 91 doesn’t repeal any existing laws regarding contraband in prisons.  Specifically, ORS 162.185, which reads:

Supplying contraband

(1) A person commits the crime of supplying contraband if:

(a) The person knowingly introduces any contraband into a correctional facility, youth correction facility or state hospital; or

(b) Being confined in a correctional facility, youth correction facility or state hospital, the person knowingly makes, obtains or possesses any contraband.

(2) Supplying contraband is a Class C felony. [1971 c.743 §194; 1983 c.815 §9; 1997 c.249 §48]

Furthermore, a 1978 Oregon Supreme Court decision, State v. Meyer, found that information alleging that a jail inmate possessed marijuana was sufficient to charge the inmate with a violation of ORS 162.185.

Marquis writes that Measure 91 “takes away” criminal penalties for jail smuggling, but in order to do that, Measure 91 would have to directly repeal ORS 162.185 or indicate that it supersedes all state marijuana laws.  It does not; Section 58 states:

SECTION 3 to SECTION 70 of this Act, designed to operate uniformly throughout the state, shall be paramount and superior to and shall fully replace and supersede any and all municipal charter enactments or local ordinances inconsistent with it. Such charters and ordinances hereby are repealed.

So state law 162.185 will still be intact and prisoners caught with marijuana and guards or visitors or jail workers knowingly smuggling marijuana to them will still face Class C felonies.  What Measure 91’s Section 55 is covering is a guard, visitor, or jail worker who unknowingly has their own personal, legal marijuana in an amount less than one ounce on the prison property, so they can’t claim Measure 91 makes their personal possession at the prison legal so long as they’re not knowingly smuggling it to prisoners.

In other words, Section 55 is a ticket in addition to the Class C felony you get for smuggling weed into prison.  I’m just a high school graduate with no law degree and I figured this out; you’d think a sitting District Attorney could see this… if he wanted to.


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. I have an ax to grind in your words about ignorance and stupidity in all subjects especially pot and Thumpers. Religion is “rude, counterproductive, and downright nasty”. Grow a brain or shut the fuck up.

  2. Sounds like you have a big ax to grind with religion. Well, go grind it somewhere else, this is not the place for you to vent your worldviews by attacking this well-meaning blog member. He was sharing his life experiences, and how religion brought him closer to his fellow human beings in a very meaningful and positive way.

    You on the other hand, by attacking him (you are using him to attack religion) are being divisive and intolerant. Can you see the hypocrisy in your own words here? Hint: you say above: “I don’t much care for religion it divides people and many of their ilk are intolerant and haters.” In both of your posts YOU are being DIVISIVE, INTOLERANT, AND HATEFUL.

    Please be kind to your fellow weedblog members, and stop giving us atheists a bad name by being rude, counterproductive, and downright nasty. I beseech you, STOP IT OR GO AWAY!!!

  3. I don’t much care for religion it divides people and many of their ilk are intolerant and haters. Most wars are religious based and life on planet earth would be much better off without religion than it is with it.

  4. “why do you care so much about what other people are doing”

    I care because Religions divide people and many of their ilk are intolerant and are haters. Churches are ludicrous on principle. These religions all have a coveted book of historic fairy tales. Why would they need some person standing in front of them reading it to them like they are too stupid to read the tales themselves. Oh I know so the person reading can guilt people out of money so that the “Church” can take care of the housing and feeding of this reader and their cars and spending money and make grand building that is for “Show”. Sounds like that guy found a meal ticket to squeeze.

  5. First thank you both for comments, a long time ago I was a republican, I was young, hard working and just got my master plumbers lic. Two young kids a young wife. I felt like I did this why can’t others. I got a call from an aunt, that I loved, she was not doing well, she broke her back. We had a conversation about politics, that led to my judgement of others. She quoted the bible, and told me , why do you care so much about what other people are doing, does it change anything about your life, judge not least , be judged yourself, treat me as the least of my brothers. This made a dramatic change in my opinion about what others did, it made me more compassionate to people. I became a democrat in time to vote for Bill Clinton, my aunt died that year, I broke my back, and got to see first hand how society treats broken people. I now see myself as a Christian Buddhist, democrat, I respect diversity in people and give all I can to whom ever I can without expectation of reward, I’ve found it truly is better to give , than receive, especially, now that I have so little money .

  6. Either one of two things is true: he doesn’t understand how to apply the law to a criminal case, or he’s deliberately trying to mislead the public regarding the potential impact of a piece of legislation. If the first is true, he’s incompetent. If the second is true, he’s corrupt.

  7. What a lawyer and a politiction not lie… Never…. Only a complete idiot would really think its ok to smuggle marijuana into a detention center just because of legalization… First of all if it was legal why would the person smuggle it in. The point is people smuggle marijuana into prisons all the time mostly by the prison guards. Personaly his Lieing scare tactics are no different than the rest of the lies that anti marijauna cronies say

  8. stellarvoyager on

    We also have a very different political climate now than in 2010. In 2010, Colorado and Washington had not yet legalized recreational use and sale of cannabis. Also in 2010, a few weeks before the election, the feds threatened to go after California aggressively if they passed prop 19. At this point, the feds have signaled a willingness to allow recreational legalization to go forward as long as certain conditions are met. Banking regulations and guidelines have also been issued, enabling cannabis businesses to engage in normal banking transactions just like any other business. So the current legalization efforts are not hampered by any of these factors, which all affected prop 19.

  9. According to the DEA in answer to your question: Not. Federal drug law concerning certain opiates changes today. Due to DEA reclassification, the most commonly prescribed pain medications in America can no longer be called or faxed into a pharmacy by ones doctor. These changes specifically target the popular pain-killers Hydrocodone and Vicodin (or any other opiate based pharmaceutical which contains acetaminophen or aspirin) making them much harder for honest patient’s suffering from pain to obtain. Morphine sulfate ER and Oxycodone have not yet been affected by this change.

  10. He seems to be following the scare tactic’s legalization foes unfortunately found success with in California’s 2010 legalization debacle. However, the electorate has changed dramatically regarding marijuana legalization in those four years. That said, they’ll probably waste millions on this kind of hooey anyway.

  11. Most of the opposed to crowd loves to swill the Alcohol,fight in country western bars and find someone gay or transgender to beat on so they can feel better about their mean and tiny little Homophobic brains.

  12. The arguments get dumber and dumber, when are people going to stop worrying about what other people are doing. This guy is like all the rest. Why is it ok for people to feel bad , why can’t people mind there own business. I take loads of morphine, I don’t want to. Should people who are sick be able to have safe non addicting pain relief or not. Or is the only determining objective to keep killing people in the name of profits

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