Marijuana Initiative Drive Gathers Enough Names
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Marijuana Initiative Drive Gathers Enough Names
Posted by CN Staff on May 21, 2010 at 04:10:21 PT
By David Steves, The Register-Guard
Source: Register-Guard
Salem -- Oregonians will vote in November on whether the state should create a network of official dispensaries where approved medical marijuana users can buy their drug, advocates said Thursday, declaring that they have gathered enough signatures for their ballot measure.Supporters turned in 20,000 signatures Thursday to the Secretary of State Elections Division, bringing their total to 112,000. That’s well above the 82,769 required to put the measure on the ballot, although advocates plan to continue circulating petitions for more signatures until the July 2 deadline because of concerns that many will be tossed out as invalid.
One of the proposal’s chief advocates, John Sajo, said Oregon’s decade-old medical marijuana program would be dramatically improved if patients could buy pot at state-regulated dispensaries. Currently, Oregon’s 36,000 medical marijuana cardholders must grow their own herb, find a caregiver or grower to grow it for them, or buy the drug on the streets.“Patients need to be able to go buy their marijuana in a safe, convenient, regulated, appropriate way,” he said.Oregon was among the first of 14 states to legalize medical marijuana. Several states with similar programs have authorized government-­regulated dispensaries similar to those proposed by the latest Oregon initiative. Among them are California, Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico and Rhode Island, as well as Washington, D.C.The Oregon initiative also directs the state to conduct research, which Sajo said could help determine what drug interactions could be dangerous to patients and establish quality control standards to prevent contaminants and molds. It also would direct some of the revenue from fees paid by participants to cover the costs of marijuana for low-income patients.The dispensaries would be created by private nonprofit entities and would sell pot grown by private growers. The dispensaries and growers would be regulated by the state and subject to background checks, inspections, zoning restrictions and record keeping and health regulations.Law enforcement officials have complained that people who grow marijuana for medical marijuana users at times grow additional marijuana that they sell illegally on the street.The current law makes it difficult for them to distinguish legitimate marijuana grows that are for patients from grows where the drug is aimed at the illegal market, police have said. The current law does not subject growers to government inspections or record keeping.Law enforcement groups have opposed past ballot measures creating or expanding Oregon’s medical marijuana program. Kevin Mannix, a former lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate who now runs a law-and-order advocacy group, said his Anti-Crime Alliance would study the proposed initiative, consult with police and prosecutors and determine whether to oppose it.The initiative would not recrim­inalize marijuana growing by patients, which Sajo said would be unfair to those who have the ability and have invested in the equipment and supplies needed to cultivate their own pot.Alice Ivany, a 61-year-old Lincoln County resident, said it took her more than a year to obtain marijuana after a doctor issued her card permitting the use of marijuana to treat her chronic pain.“I did not want to use the black market. I was terribly afraid. I did not know where else to go. There were no resources available for me,” she said. “It was needless suffering, and today there are still thousands of people still experiencing that.” State-sanctioned dispensaries would address that, she said.Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)Author:   David Steves, The Register-GuardPublished: Friday, May 21, 2010Copyright: 2010 The Register-GuardContact: rgletters guardnet.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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