Portland marijuana dispensaries may finally become a reality for Oregon medical marijuana patients. The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) was passed in 1998, and it allowed patients with certain “debilitating medical conditions” to use marijuana to alleviate their pain and suffering. As of April 1, 2010, there are over 32,000 current patients registered with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP).
There is currently no supply system for medical marijuana however, so patients in the program must grow their own marijuana or find another person to grow it. The OMMA specifically requires that “no consideration is paid for transfer” in order to remain in compliance with the law. There is an inherent problem with the original law passed however. Many, if not most, of the patients in this program do not have the ability to grow their own marijuana. It is either physically too mairjuana dispensary demanding or requires too much of a financial investment or intellectual know-how. Adding to the problem is the fact that it is difficult to find a caregiver who can grow it for them.
What has resulted is patients seeking out their medicine on the black market. You can imagine that this makes many people feel like they are criminals. Others are just not willing to put forth the effort or embarrassment to obtain medical marijuana, so they don’t get to see the benefits of marijuana for their condition.
To fix this problem, there is an initiative backed by Voter Power currently circulating that attempts to create a regulated medical marijuana supply system. This initiative, often referred to as I-28 (Initiative 28), turned in just over 7000 signatures on April 14, bringing the total submitted signatures to 80,543, according to the Oregon Secretary of State. An initiative requires 82,769 valid signatures by July 2 to qualify for the November ballot (approximately 125,000 total signatures to account for invalid and duplicate signatures).
Currently, there is a 59% approval rating for this initiative in initial polling. And it appears that the initiative will indeed get the required number of votes to be on the ballot. Then it will be up to Oregon voters to decide if they want to follow the likes of California and Colorado and provide a regulated means of medical marijuana patients to obtain their medicine.