Crowds count down to legalization of marijuana in Oregon, then light up

Hundreds gathered on the Burnside Bridge in downtown Portland and smoked under the glow of a neon city sign, marking the moment that the law allowing recreational use, backed by voters in November, came into effect.

The legislation opens the way for shops to sell marijuana by next year, though a bill headed to the governor’s desk would allow bans on retail sales in cities and counties where at least 55 percent of voters voted against legal weed.

Similar legalization initiatives that have ushered in retail pot shops are already in force in Washington state and Colorado, reflecting a shifting landscape for a drug that remains illegal under federal law. Alaska, which also voted to legalize marijuana, hopes for pot shops in 2016.

About half of U.S. states allow marijuana for medical use. The District of Columbia has voted to allow recreational-use marijuana but not retail shops, and a pot legalization campaign is

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