No fewer than ten House bills and five Senate bills seeking new restrictions to the state’s medical marijuana law have been proposed since the start of the Oregon state legislative session on February 2, 2011. A partial list of these bills shown below indicates that they seek to restrict and impede the very successful Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP).
Since its inception, the OMMP has been one of the only state programs in Oregon to remain completely self-sustaining, with surpluses transferred back to the Oregon general fund on a regular basis during its thirteen years.
Statistically, it can easily be shown that only a small percentage of Oregonians who have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition actually obtain a medical marijuana recommendation. Using arthritis alone as an example, Doug McVay, Editor of Drug War Facts, a valuable statistical tool available at www.drugwarfacts.org reports:
“The CDC estimated that there were 760,000 adults with arthritis in Oregon in 2009 and 352,000 have Arthritis Attributable Activity Limitation. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/state_data_list.htm#oregon”
Commissioned by Oregon NORML in 2008, Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator authored “The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program: The Gold Standard of Government Programs,” which gives this summary of the program at the ten-year mark:
- Self funded program –no cost for a decade!
- Contributed over $1 million to Oregon State General Fund via Oregon Bills –2007 SB 581 Section 25;
- Canada has 10x Oregon’s population, yet only 1/10th the registered patients, even with a federal dispensary system - Phillippe Lucas –Vancouver Island Compassion Society, based on figures from Health Canada.
- Model for nearly all medical marijuana states
- Registry fraud is very rare exception
- Patient numbers indicate health care needs
- Few doctors signing for cards indicates patients in need
- Grow site numbers indicate compliance
- Large plant and possession limits help keep patients in compliance and off black market.
- No negative consequences after a decade!
Proposed bills that seek to impose new restrictions on medical marijuana use in Oregon include:
SB 645: Allows employer to institute drug-free workplace for employees, regardless of whether employee has a card.
SB 646: Allows employer to expand drug-free workplace to bar use outside of workplace (current law does say employers do not need to accommodate use by cardholders in workplace).
SB 708: Directs law enforcement and Oregon Health Authority to develop system to identify more readily who is allowed to grow medical marijuana and where.
SB 777: Narrows conditions for which medical marijuana can be used; also requires patient to submit info about conditions every six months, instead of every year.
HB 2982: Requires criminal background check by Oregon Health Authority; bars those with felony drug convictions from receiving or using cards.
HB 2994: Bars grow sites within 2,500 feet of schools and churches.
HB 3046: Allows cooperatives to grow medical marijuana, but taxes them at 10 percent of profits, and half of money must fund program; in exchange, it bars growing other than by cooperatives, individual cardholders or caregivers. As revenue-raising measures, requires 60 percent majorities for passage.
HB 3077: Requires cardholders to be Oregon residents.
HB 3093: Limits possession of medical marijuana to one ounce.
HB 3129: Makes it easier for Health Authority to release information about growers and grow sites to law enforcement.
HB 3132: People convicted of specific drug crimes can't get cards.
HB 3202: Removes caregivers from authorized list of growers, limits to individual cardholders or specific designees growing for no more than four; also has 1,000-foot limit from schools.
In order to maintain this successful program, Oregon NORML asks that you contact your State representatives and senators and ask them to oppose any legislation that proposes changes to Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Act.