Dominic Simpson photo
By TIM RILEY
Paltalk News Network Contributor
Paltalk News Network Contributor
Medical marijuana has been legal in Oregon since 1998.
It is a far from perfect state run system. Measure 74 on Oregon’s November ballot seeks to streamline the process.
How does it work now?
There is a registry run by the public health division of the Oregon Department of Human Services. Patents must first obtain an Attending Physicians Statement confirming a qualifying debilitating illness, pay a $100 fee with an application, receive a card and buy from a state licensed grower who is limited in the number of plants they may produce.
How many take advantage of this program?
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program known as OMMP provides the following data: 36,380 patients and 18,676 caregivers currently hold cards, 3,444 Oregon licensed physicians have signed applications. There are 1,584 Oregon licensed physicians with current OMMP patients, and 23,693 new patient applications have been received July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.
Measure 74 on Oregon’s November ballot wants to tweak the system a bit. Instead of leaving patients on their own to find a grower, supporters seek to allow the Oregon Health Authority to institute and regulate a supply system for medical marijuana distribution. There would be licensed, non profit dispensaries similar to pharmacies supplied by growers who would be able to produce more marijuana plants now allowed under the law, be subjected to additional criminal records checks and quality control in packaging. There would be prohibitions on those convicted of crimes and felonies, along with age limitations, zoning restrictions, and inspections.
Cash strapped Oregon would also benefit from $20 million dollars in medical marijuana tax revenue in the first year alone Measure 74 authors argue. Licensing fees will be an additional income source for the state. Dispensing clinics and suppliers would have to obtain a license and pay fees – $1,000 for producers, $2,000 for clinics. Measure 74 also provides research dollars for sciences exploring the benefits of medical marijuana supporters claim the big drug companies are ignoring.
The Oregon Voter’s Pamphlet shows Measure 74 supporters including a former Portland mayor, a former state Supreme Court justice, a former U.S. Attorney for the district, physicians and nurses. The pamphlet lists two opposing arguments. Other naysayers include law enforcement officers who call medical marijuana a “fraud” and Measure 74 “confusing.”
Will Oregon voters vote yes on Measure 74? It may very well depend on participation by younger voters. College campuses statewide are being targeted in voter registration drives. It is also interesting to note that Oregon has only mail-in elections. Ballots are due back to county election offices by November 2nd. There are drop boxes at many locations for procrastinators unable to meet the mail-in deadline. This mail-in system works very well. Results are rapid. The exceptions are small towns counting by hand.
California, another state with medical marijuana laws on the books is attempting to take matters a step further, voting on whether to outright legalize marijuana in their November 2nd election. Proposition 19 would legalize and regulate it similar to alcohol, providing tax dollars for the California’s empty state coffers. At the same time, lack of solid scientific research on the health effects of marijuana use remain murky.
Experts on both sides are able to cite scientific evidence supporting their positions.