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When Oregon voters collectively decided to be in favor of recreational use of marijuana for adults 21+, not one of them had any idea that this would create negative backlash for sick and dying patients.

It’s sad to say, but it’s been an open ended fist fight from the beginning, especially on the day Governor Brown signed it into law. Oregonians had no doubts that this was a beneficial step in the right direction. We were looking forward to the end of the harebrained “war on drugs” and the cannabis prohibition. Challenging the Federal government is still a difficult task to take on, even when we are starting to take some small strides and see some progress.

Are we getting a little ahead of ourselves?

“Our people voted not to change medical marijuana as it stated three times in Measure 91 in November 2014. I would like to see an Oregon Health Authority that respects the OMMP as much as the voters,” said Oregon businesswoman and activist Sarah Duff.

“OHA’s proposed permanent rules are going to destroy the OMMP program,” wrote patient activist, Sandy Diesel, in her “call to action”.

“They have imposed unrealistic, unaffordable, and unwarranted regulations that are seriously nearly impossible to comply with. Unless you plan on growing 12 plants or less for yourself & another patient that must live at the grow site, you will have to comply with these regulations. Which means you need thousands of dollars for surveillance systems, an approved safe, fencing that will require an engineer, survey and permits, water rights, and more.”

The treatment of patients is becoming more and more disproportionate, while also creating a blatant dilemma. Over-regulation in place of an astute blunder is definitely a tough pill to swallow.

It’s not just the fact that sick and dying patients have been paying the state for the right to use their medicine each year since 1998, but now they face the issue of having their growers suddenly being taken from them. These are modifications that don’t accommodate anyone.

“At this point there are two things you need to know: OMMP growers are being forced into OLCC & will effectively shut down nearly all the OMMP growers. Patients will suffer,” said Diesel.

Just this week, there are at least three integral meetings for interested parties. You should expect to see hundreds of patients, growers and business owners in attendance anxiously awaiting their turn to speak.

On Tuesday, January 26, the Cannabis Research Task Force is meeting for the third and final time, in Corvallis. The topic of discussion: recommendations and proposals for formulating and funding research on medical properties of cannabis; evaluate potential of locating cannabis grow site for research; and review draft of baseline report due to Legislature by Feb. 1.

This task force was developed via Senate Bill 844 (2015), to study and publish a report on the “development of a medical cannabis industry that supplies patients with medical products meeting individual patient needs”. The 15-member task force were appointed by the Governor.

On Thursday, January 28, the Retail Marijuana Scientific Advisory Committee will meet in Portland, and review a report called “Monitoring Marijuana Use, Attitudes, Health Effects”. This committee is specifically looking for “adverse health effects” of retail marijuana use, and the impacts of time, place, and manner of retail sale of potentially addictive substances. Wait, we can’t still be talking about cannabis?

After all these years, all the education and legislation, the OHA is still “uneasy and concerned that children will use marijuana products”. They carry themselves as if cannabis was just recently discovered, and Oregonians haven’t been using it for generations. They are worried that advertising will convince and encourage young people to use marijuana. If they took the time to  understand the benefits of marijuana in comparison to alcohol, their long-term fears would likely be put to rest.

Final rules will be filed after consideration of all comments. If you wish to present oral testimony, come to one or more of the following public hearings:

  • Portland: January 25, 2016 at 9:00 a.m.: Portland State Office Building, Room 1A – 800 NE Oregon St., 97232
  • Bend: January 25, 2016 at 1:00 p.m.: Deschutes Services Building, DeArmond Room – 1300 NW Wall Street, 97701
  • Medford: January 27, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.: Medford Public Library – 205 S Central Avenue, 97501

Again, this is not what the voters said “yes” to. The color of the law has changed, and it is up to the people to restore it to it’s intended splendor.

“Because the OHA has already “bungled” implementation of residency requirements twice, and there is enough evidence to suggest the OHA is embarrassed of the OMMP, we will have to be especially vigilant to protect OMMP patients and harmful changes to the program,” remarked Sarah Duff.

“After tomorrow’s OHA Rules Advisory Committee Meeting we will need to take this fight for patient’s rights to the Oregon legislature.”

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