Eclipse visitors better beware some of Oregon's peculiar laws

KING 5's Lori Matsukawa reports.

If you're coming to Oregon for Monday's solar eclipse, you'd better beware some of the state's unusual laws and rules.

For example, you may have heard that buying pot is legal here, but that doesn't mean you can't get busted for smoking it. And riding a bike without a helmet can bring a citation and fine if you're under 16 years old.

There's lots more. Here's a quick look at the laws and best practices you should follow during your visit:

You can't light a joint everywhere: There are really only four things to take into account when it comes to Oregon pot laws.

  1. Don't partake if you're underage. Marijuana users must be at least 21 years old.
  2. No street-corner deals. You have to buy it from legal retailers licensed by the state. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates recreational weed sales, has an online list of all the approved dealers.
  3. It's illegal to smoke or consume any type of pot in public. That includes gummies and brownies. Don't try to be sneaky. And no, the state isn't relaxing marijuana laws Monday to let you light a spliff at parks or sandy beaches during the roughly two minutes of solar-eclipse totality.
  4. You can't take it home with you across state lines.

Don't pump your own gas: This isn't California, so don't hop out of the Prius and grab a fuel nozzle after you pull into a gas station. Pumping your own gas is against the law throughout most of the state, with few exceptions.

Sit back, roll down the window and wait for a professional to take your order. (It's like Sonic, but with fuel.) The wait will give you a few minutes to check Twitter and #OREclipse posts before hitting the gas pedal on the rest of your Great Pacific Northwestern Adventure.

Bike helmets needed for riders under 16: For those of you planning to watch the eclipse after peddling to a nice viewing spot in one of Salem's many lovely parks, make sure youngsters are wearing their helmets. It's illegal for children under 16 years old to ride bicycles without one.

What's this about no sales tax? In Oregon, we enjoy a 0-percent sales tax — and you can, too! (There is one on recreational weed, though, which is taxed up to 20 percent.) So feel free to stimulate our economy while you're here, friends.

Salem parks open for overnight stays: City officials are not allowing folks to roll their RVs onto park lawns. But you can stay overnight Saturday and Sunday at Salem's parks with, say, a small tent and sleeping bag. The city is urging folks to keep their footprint light.

And come Monday night, "we're going to be running the sprinklers again," warns city spokesman Kenny Larson.

No stopping beside highways unless you have to: Yes, we know our highway speed limits are roughly 300 miles per hour slower than the rest of the U.S. But that doesn't mean it's safe to pull to the shoulder during the eclipse. There's still a chance you'll get rear-ended and in many spots it's illegal.

Related: Eclipse traffic nightmare continues Thursday in Central, Eastern Oregon

Video: From smoking pot to riding bikes, here are some important laws you should know when visiting Oregon. Julius Lasin / Statesman Journal Wochit

The Oregon Department of Transportation has asked that people don't pull over to the side of the road unless there's an emergency.

So your best bet may be going to one of our roadside rest areas, which the transportation department says will be open.

Lastly, don't forget to don a pair of eclipse glass to protect your eyes. Just don't do it while driving.

-Connor Radnovich contributed to this article.

Send questions, comments or news tips to jbach@statesmanjournal.com or 503-399-6714. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMBach.

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