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When Oregon State Police pulled over a driver recently for following another vehicle too closely, they expected a routine stop. Little did the authorities know that it would lead to the discovery of a significant amount of marijuana hiding in the vehicle’s trunk.

While the traffic violation along Interstate 5 near Salem, Oregon, is what prompted the stop, the subsequent interaction with the driver led to a search of the vehicle. Police found that the 37-year-old female driver had a suitcase containing about five pounds of pot packed away in her car. According to police, the estimated value of the marijuana was about $12,500. Officers further uncovered a small amount of cocaine in a backpack.

Marijuana Regulation in Oregon

Oregon has some of the more progressive marijuana laws when compared to other states, having decriminalized marijuana possession to a certain degree. For example, if a person is found in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, the offense is only a civil violation and the fine is limited to a range of $500-$1,000. Additionally, possession of less than 24 ounces is allowed for medicinal purposes if the user holds a registry identification card. Such holders may also lawfully cultivate up to 24 plants for personal use.

However, possession of greater than one ounce or any illegal sale of marijuana carries a more severe punishment. For example, anyone found manufacturing marijuana without proper state registration could be guilty of a felony punishable by 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $300,000. Sale of any quantity of the drug is considered a class B felony, and violators could be subject to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

While Oregon may treat a casual user with some sympathy, those more involved in the illegal cultivation and sale of marijuana can still expect harsh treatment under the law. For the driver carrying five pounds of marijuana, the laws leave little hope of leniency if she were to be found guilty of illegal possession of that significant amount.