I was asked by a leading Oregon prevention activist to write an op-ed piece about marijuana dispensaries. Since the timing corresponded with my mid-week blog post, I’ll share it here. Please let me know your thoughts on this subject.
The Oregon State Legislature recently passed HB3460, a bill that now sits on Governor Kitzhaber’s desk. If signed, Oregon moves one step closer to the legalization of marijuana. Didn’t we vote against dispensary
Measure 74 as recently as 2010, and against legalization just eight short months ago? I’m frankly distressed the legislature would attempt to pass a law so recently voted down by the public (twice). What kind of democracy is this?
HB3460 creates new provisions under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP), requiring the Oregon Health Authority to establish and administer a registration system of medical marijuana dispensaries. This facilitates the transfer of marijuana between grow sites and cardholders via storefronts.
Voters did say “yes” in 1998 to Oregon’s current medical marijuana program in order to meet the needs of a small percentage of people with very specific health needs. While I felt compassion at that time for those who suffered, and voted with the majority, I now feel hoodwinked. What we have seen in the past fourteen years is a program that is largely a front for ongoing substance abuse and illegal activity.
The current number of OMMP patients is 54,917 and the number of growers 41,752. To quote Oregon’s U.S Attorney, Amanda Marshall, “the math for medical marijuana growers does not add up.” The plants grown in southern Oregon are 8 – 10 feet tall, and they produce 6 – 10 pounds of smokable product…why are you growing six plants per cardholder, when each cardholder can only get 1.5 pounds?” While I have no doubt there are some legitimate card holders, over 90 percent of cards issued thus far are for “pain,” not for a specific disease or disability. Also alarming is the fact that just ten Oregon doctors account for 56 percent of all card recommendations (“prescriptions”).
It’s no secret that most of the surplus product ends up on the street. Oregon State Rep. Andy Olson, a 29-year veteran of the Oregon State Police and a dissenter on HB3460, reports “nearly 40 percent of pot seized on the nation’s most common drug-trafficking routes during the first three months of this year was tied to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.”
There are already several dispensaries operating in Bend and I’m concerned about the health and safety of our youth. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that 74% of the teens in substance abuse programs in Colorado indicate using diverted medical marijuana as their source. Do we want this for Oregon? States with medical marijuana laws, including our own, show abuse/dependence rates almost twice that of states without such laws. Furthermore, given the unique vulnerability of the adolescent brain, research shows that marijuana addiction rates among teens users is now 1 in 6!
Many think natural / green / medicine when they think of marijuana. But the truth is there’s nothing natural about marijuana. Today’s “weed” isn’t a weed at all, but a highly engineered product that is indeed addictive.
In her letter Monday to Governor Kitzhaber, L.A. District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, had this to say. “Although regulating marijuana activities in your state may be a noble endeavor, legalizing marijuana sales through the storefront model is not the answer. We know this first-hand. As a result of its failure to prohibit storefront pot shops from the inception, the City of Los Angeles has been hit by an onslaught of lawsuits after the City tried to stop the damage it had created…costing the City millions of dollars. Our empirical evidence proves that storefront pot shops are merely fronts for drug dealing. It is imperative that marijuana activities and profit be kept mutually exclusive.”
I urge all Oregonians who care about our youth and the future of our state, to contact the Governor’s office and request a veto of HB3460. ~~~~~
Please share your thoughts below. Because I take your privacy seriously, feel free to substitute a pseudonym, or the word “anonymous,” if you prefer not to use your real name. Please know that your e-mail address, though required in order to prevent spam, will never be published.