An Ounce of Cure?

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  An Ounce of Cure?

Posted by CN Staff on April 29, 2010 at 10:02:22 PT
By Peter Korn 
Source: Portland Tribune 

Oregon -- Paul Stanford wants to turn Oregon into the Anheuser-Busch of the United States, with companies legally supplying marijuana products to the entire country. Outside of a few law enforcement officials, nobody is objecting.Most everyone involved with medical marijuana in Oregon believes the state program is broken, and dramatically different from the limited concept Oregonians thought they were approving at the ballot box 12 years ago.
As the program has evolved and grown during the past decade, it has reached a point where police say they can’t investigate many growers and dealers they believe are selling to the black market. On the other hand, legitimate medical marijuana cardholders can’t get the drug they are entitled to – because state law says they can smoke it, but not legally buy it.A fix for the program’s flaws, however, is elusive. That’s despite the fact that other, newer models for state-run medical marijuana policies exist.  Legalization vs. Dispensaries  The solution advocated by Northeast Portland resident Stanford, who owns a number of profitable medical marijuana clinics, is full legalization of marijuana in Oregon. Stanford is spending a great deal of his own money in support of a legalization ballot initiative.However, many marijuana activists say they prefer an interim step on the road to legalization – dispensaries where medical marijuana cardholders can purchase their cannabis. One or both of those possibilities is likely to make it onto Oregon’s November ballot.With few voices and little money in opposition to well-funded and organized national and local marijuana lobbies, Stanford’s vision is steadily coming closer to reality.Even law enforcement officials are willing to consider that dispensaries might be a positive step. Mark McDonnell, senior deputy district attorney in charge of the Multnomah County drug unit, says something has to change. “The present situation is intolerable,” McDonnell says. “The police have thrown up their hands; they don’t know what to do.”The majority of the large marijuana growing operations, some with hundreds of plants in barns and abandoned houses, have medical marijuana cards to display. But the law, McDonnell says, doesn’t provide the tools that law enforcement needs to inspect sites to see if growers are complying with the law, or if they instead are using the law to disguise black market operations.If police officers stop a driver they suspect of being drunk and the driver refuses a breathalyzer test, his or her driver’s license can be taken away for a year. McDonnell would like that same right of inspection applied to marijuana growers with cards. Currently, he says, police can’t get a warrant to enter and inspect a home where marijuana is being grown if the person who meets them at the door has a medical marijuana card.McDonnell says there also has been a rise in the number of home invasion robberies at large indoor grow sites. And that is why he calls an initiative that would establish nonprofit dispensaries and state-regulated growers to supply them “a possible solution” – if it allows police more latitude in going after private growers. “If you have dispensaries, there’s no reason to allow (individual) growers,” McDonnell says.But that wouldn’t satisfy Madeline Martinez, executive director of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Martinez, whose organization also runs the Northeast Portland Cannabis Café, where cardholders can get and smoke donated marijuana, says she will want to grow her own, even if dispensaries become legal.“I want to grow organic, and I don’t want anybody taking that away from me,” Martinez says.  Is It Compassion or Business?  If it attracts enough signatures to make the ballot and is approved by voters, the dispensary initiative would make Oregon the first state in the country with legal, for-profit marijuana growers.Surprisingly, one of the state’s staunchest medical marijuana activists opposes dispensaries. Salem resident Stormy Ray, a major backer of Oregon’s original medical marijuana ballot measure, says dispensaries would gut the original intent of the measure passed by voters in 1998.That measure set up a system where cardholders were expected to grow their own or have it supplied by growers who don’t receive compensation.“This program is about kindness,” Ray says. “When you start registering stores, you take it out of the ownership of the patients and into the hands of a third party that is only there to make money. I don’t think you’ll see medicinal marijuana at $40 an ounce out of a dispensary.”That $40 an ounce, Ray says, is what kindhearted growers are asking from cardholders as compensation for direct expenses, which is all they are entitled to. The street price of an ounce of marijuana is about $250. But Ray estimates that one in three cardholders are unable to grow their own, or find someone to supply them.Supporters of dispensary initiative are selling their proposition as a tax-generating revenue boost that could produce millions of dollars for the state of Oregon. But Ray thinks too much money at stake will mean the dispensaries, though regulated by the state, will eventually be corrupted.“The same people we call the black market right now will be running those dispensaries,” Ray says.In the long run, the proposed dispensary initiative might not matter.Sandee Burbank, executive director of Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse, a Southeast Portland medical marijuana clinic and education center, says that if California voters approve a ballot measure in November that would legalize marijuana there, she expects a domino effect will lead to Oregon legalizing cannabis no later than 2012. That’s assuming that another Oregon initiative – one that would legalize marijuana in Oregon next year – does not make the ballot or get approved by Oregon voters in November.  Tightening Controls an Option  Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis is worried about widespread marijuana use that’s already here. The fact that there are nearly 36,000 Oregon medical marijuana cardholders is proof that people who don’t medically need cannabis are taking advantage of the program, he says.Marquis would reschedule marijuana from its Schedule One status among controlled substances, which it shares with other drugs considered to have no medicinal use. He would reclassify marijuana as Schedule Two, which would require physicians to prescribe it just like other medicinal drugs.Marquis also says that the criteria for Oregonians getting medical marijuana cards must be tightened. That’s exactly what New Jersey has done in passing the country’s most recent medical marijuana legislation.New Jersey’s program will not permit cardholders to grow their own marijuana. Instead, they will have to obtain it at state-licensed dispensaries that will get their cannabis from state-regulated growers.It also establishes a limited list of medical conditions that can qualify applicants for medical marijuana cards. Nonspecific pain relief, the condition listed on about 90 percent of Oregon medical marijuana authorizations, is not among them. However, more conditions can be added to the list.New Jersey is among states that have also tried to limit the growth of high-volume medical marijuana clinics that employ physicians to authorize medical marijuana cards. The New Jersey program requires that patients have a pre-existing relationship with the doctors who sign off on their cards.But advocate Martinez isn’t buying the idea that more qualifying medical conditions will be added to the list as research becomes available. She says that was promised when Oregon’s medical marijuana program was first set up, and only one condition, Alzheimer’s disease, has been added to the qualifying list in 12 years.Martinez is among those who believe that anxiety, post traumatic stress syndrome and depression all respond to cannabis.What nobody disputes is that Oregon’s medical marijuana program is far different from what voters thought they were approving 12 years ago. About 2,000 new applicants are approved every month, and very few suffer from major diseases such as cancer or multiple sclerosis.Whether most Oregonians like or resent the evolution may determine the fate of new marijuana ballot measures in November.  Card Won't Protect Pot-Smoking Workers  Engineer David Booth has an impressive work record. He’s been employed by some of the Portland area’s best-known high-tech firms. He holds a number of patents. But Booth can’t get a job.Booth is a longtime medical marijuana cardholder and a daily pot smoker. A high-strung sort, Booth says he sleeps better after an evening smoke at home, and he’s calmer around people.Booth can’t pass a company drug test. He’s even had job offers withdrawn after telling the employer that he is a cardholder who smokes. He says he feels discriminated against, and confused.Until two weeks ago, Booth wasn’t the only one who felt confused. Until then, Oregon employers had been “tearing their hair out” because they didn’t know what they could and couldn’t do with cardholders, says Paula A. Barran, a Portland employment attorney.But two weeks ago, the Oregon Supreme Court issued what may be a definitive ruling. Federal law trumps state law, the court decided. And federal law does not recognize legal marijuana. So Booth can’t claim discrimination. And the approximately 36,000 current Oregonians who have medical marijuana cards have reason to fear for their jobs.If they test positive for marijuana and their employers want to fire them, they can. In fact, some of those employers, if they accept federal government funds such as stimulus money, may let them go for fear of violating federal contracts.And jobs aren’t the only problem facing legal cardholders. Marijuana cardholders who live in public housing cannot grow marijuana plants in their apartments, despite the fact that Oregon’s medical marijuana program is based on cardholders growing their own.All of which leaves David Booth just scrambling to get by. To make ends meet he sells a little firewood and he supplies three other cardholders with marijuana. They’ve each designated him as their grower, which means they can only reimburse him for direct expenses such as lighting and water.But even there, Booth isn’t quite sure what the law allows. He says each cardholder gives him about $100 a month in return for two ounces of marijuana. He has no idea if that payment exceeds or is less than what he can ask.Of course, Booth could give up smoking pot as he continues his job search. He says he won’t, at least not yet.“I’m not nearly desperate enough,” Booth says.Source: Portland Tribune (OR)Author: Peter KornPublished: April 29, 2010Copyright: 2010 Portland TribuneContact: letters portlandtribune.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 

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Comment #11 posted by ripit on April 30, 2010 at 20:38:12 PT

i could be the next adolf coors?
since their taking the king of buds in oregon here in idaho i got coors(its the water)!! and so down the road when it finally get all legal i could start up my own micro brewery/(greenhouse) where i'd get a local following an i got to where demand got so big i'd have to expand and offer up some gimmick like the party bowl and 420 packs? just a happy thought going thru my head tonight.
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Comment #10 posted by observer on April 30, 2010 at 14:30:23 PT

Compassion or Business
Q: "Is It Compassion or Business?"That's a curious way (a false dilemma) of framing things. The the medical equipment industry, for example, is it compassion or business? about your family doctor? Does she see you for compassion or business? Your local hospital - is that compassion or business? How about the local drug-store. Is that compassion or business? No pay for the doc means no care for you? I see: that must be compassion, and not business. Your pharmacist, he compassionately gives away his medicines - or is it really a business, in many respects, like selling toilet paper or cans of soup? How about his time - the pharmacist donates/most/some all his time - you know, because of "compassion" - or he gets a salary/profit, because, when you boil it down, medicine - even in Cuba, say, - is a business. If it doesn't make money, doctors leave. Bottom line.
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Comment #9 posted by Nic on April 30, 2010 at 12:18:52 PT

I wonder
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on April 30, 2010 at 09:42:24 PT

Unity of Purpose
I agree. If we stand together and not dwell on our differences we will win sooner rather then later. 
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Comment #7 posted by Micheal Byers on April 30, 2010 at 08:59:10 PT

Grow your own
NEVER STOP GROWING,We will always have the upper hand as long as we keep,GROWING.
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Comment #6 posted by Jim Leighton on April 30, 2010 at 07:51:14 PT:

A unified push to legalize cannabis , putting aside individual priorities , is how we will beat this prohibition . The federal government has already bowed to the medical efficacy of cannabis . Industrial hemp is equally yoked to the need for legalization . Recreational users , in all of their incredible variety can pull together . Prohibitionists would divide the camps of cannabis , we need to recognize the need to move forward together .Like the global cannabis march tomorrow , solidarity will move us to the next level.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on April 30, 2010 at 05:05:39 PT

It's good to see you. Thank you for the video link. 
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Comment #4 posted by mykeyb420 on April 29, 2010 at 21:52:50 PT

me on TV
Hi all,,
 I was on TV again ,,this time for 4/20 Im smoking and blowing into the camera with my Pablo Cruise T shirt,,,
my favorite part is the cops on horseback with their ONLY IN SAN FRANCISCO attitude towards our festival
eat your hearts out 
4/20 festival in SAN FRANCISCO 
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Comment #3 posted by HempWorld on April 29, 2010 at 18:47:23 PT

Go Paul!
My dear friend, now that Jack's gone you are it, you are a tireless trooper, go for it!You have my respect!
Paul Stanford etc. Go Paul!
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on April 29, 2010 at 16:32:08 PT

make it simple
It would seem that the prohibitionist don’t understand cannabis, and don’t want to understand either, hence all of their confusion. Logic dictates that the simplest solution is the best solution and the simplest solution is a legal cannabis industry.
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on April 29, 2010 at 11:57:29 PT

once again the double standard
So only people with devastating illnesses like cancer and MS should be able to get cannabis medicine? What would happen if that was applied to ALL prescription meds....or OTC meds?For starters, hundreds of millions of prescriptions for drugs like Xanax, Prozac, SSRI inhibitors, Viagra, etc, would be illegal.always the double standard for cannabis, even though it's among the safest of medications.thanks for equating patients with drunk drivers, btw, Mr. Prosecutor, really appreciate that.
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