SALEM, Ore. - Sweeping changes to Oregon's Medical Marijuana Act could be ahead--if some lawmakers have their way.
Marijuana supporters say is the law is working fine.
What do you say?
Medical marijuana growers and patients rallied Feb. 23, 2011, against any changes to the 1998 state law.
"The marijuana genie has been out of the bottle in Oregon for decades now," declared lobbyist Robert Wolfe of the Oregon Marijuana Police Initiative, made up of 10 organizations that support medical marijuana use in Oregon.
What's at stake?
People convicted of a drug felony would be denied a state medical marijuana card in a bill heard in a state house committee hearing on Wednesday.
Detractors argue it would lead to background checks on all existing marijuana card holders in Oregon.
Wolfe told KVAL News, "It's a very expensive bill, an unfunded mandate in a time of restricted budgets. It would take enormous manpower."
About 50 people turned out to speak on a flood of bills designed to restrict the state's medical marijuana program.
Oregon House Co-Speaker, Bruce Hanna of Roseburg, said, "It appears based on the number of (medical marijuana) cards we have and on the diagnosis that's being presented in order to get the card that there could be some abuse there."
Outside at the rally, KVAL News asked medical marijuana grower and user Jenifer Valley, "Are there recipients getting cards who should not be getting cards?"
Valley replied, "Actually only about 10 percent of the patients who qualify for this program actally have cards."
Other proposals would cut the amount of marijuana a card holder could have at one time, restrict the conditions for which medical pot could be prescribed, etc - 15 bills in all.
"Those things are common sense issues that Oregonians want to have a very good understanding of - and whether or not it works or not," explained Speaker Hanna.
Law supporters say it amounts to legislative overkill.
"It makes more sense to work with the community and craft reasonable regulations than to force people into the black market," says Robert Wolfe.
Preventing abuses and expanding access: two viewpoints not entirely at cross purpose should ensure the smoke won't clear on this debate any time soon.
Numbers from the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program show Lane County has just over 4,000 card holders, ranking third highest among Oregon counties.
"If you went all the way to Salem to cover a story on the OMMP, why didn't you ask the OMMP if there are any abuses or problems? What was the "potential for abuse" Hanna was referring to? And "all the links you need"? - except the OMMP, the ONLY self-sustaining state program thirteen years running. With 1300+ applications rejected last year, it appears to me the OMMP is doing its job.
What do you think? What do you want to see done by state government?