KTVZ Channel 21 (Bend, Oregon): Recreational marijuana legal soon -- but not for sale yet

The countdown is on. In 12 days, marijuana can be smoked legally in Oregon -- but still cannot be legally purchased. A proposal in the Oregon Legislature could change that.

"I don't think it's going to be hard. If someone can't buy it, they're going to get it somewhere," Shawna Ellefson, a Bend resident, said Friday.

Pot is available at the push of a button, whether it's legal or not. That's one argument backing a lawmaker's proposal to make it legal to buy on July 1. Some are concerned black market drug dealers will prosper from the time recreational marijuana is legal and when it's legal to buy in January.

"Measure 91, making weed legal in Oregon -- the whole industry is based upon building a box that won't leak into the black market," said Aviv Hadar, CEO of Oregrown.

Not allowing users to buy on July 1 could defeat that purpose.

"A lot of people are scared that the Craigslist drug dealer is going to capitalize, and they will," Hadar said.

The proposal to amend Measure 91 has challenges.

"I think, in theory, it's a wonderful concept," Hadar said.

Measure 91 has given the Oregon Liquor Control Commission until January 2016 to license facilities for recreational sales. Packaging for recreational weed has not yet been set. A last minute change puts pressure on the organization.

"I can't say we're prepared, but we're aware of it," said OLCC spokesman Tom Towslee.

Towslee said that the OLCC will do whatever lawmakers decide is best.

"I don't see it happening July 1. I really don't. I think Oct. 1 is more realistic," Hadar said.

Bend dispensary Oregrown says the black market will only evaporate when customers can buy legally from shops. Oregrown is interested in applying for a recreational license.

"It just defeats the purpose if it's legal, but you can't buy it anywhere," said Bend resident Khristian Kingston.