Petition seeks to expand medical marijuana program in Oregon

Petition seeks to expand medical marijuana program in Oregon »Play Video
A bud of medical marijuana is shown at Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse Monday, Oct. 20, 2009, in Portland, Ore. Pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers should not be targeted for federal prosecution in states that allow medical marijuana, prosecutors were told Monday in a new policy memo issued by the Justice Department. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

EUGENE, Ore. -- Jim Greig is bedridden with severe rheumatoid arthritis, a condition he has had for 22 years.

For 20 of those years, he has used marijuana to relive pain.

"It only took about 2 weeks before I really began to notice how much looser my arms were feeling with the anti-inflammatory properties of the cannabis," Greig told KVAL News.

Voters approved the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program in 1998. Greig and other advocates hope they are ready for the next step.

Ballot initiative 28 would allow for state-regulated, nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries. State licensed pot growers would sell their crops to the dispensaries. Fees and taxes would go to the state.

John Sajo, who's head of the group that helped pass Oregon's 1998 medical marijuana law, said backers of the new initiative on Monday turned in 61,000 petition signatures. Advocates have until July to round up the rest of the signatures they need. Backers need 82,769 valid signatures to qualify the measure.

"A completely legal medical marijuana program that contributes to the state financially and takes millions of dollars out of crime," Greig predicted would come from passage of the ballot measure.

He said if the initiative gets on the ballot and gets approved by voters, patients -- instead of having to find a personal grower or trying to grow it themselves -- could go straight to the dispensary to buy medicinal marijuana.

Greig said this could lead to research to boost quality control standards for medical marijuana funded by the program.

"We're very positive it's going to pass," he said. "It's the right thing to do."

The Associated Press contributed to this report