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SB 388 Was an Attempt to Sink Oregon's Medical Marijuana ProgramCommentary by Laird Funk for Salem-News.com
Portrayed as a compromise, the bill was actually a sellout to law enforcement, giving them most of what they wanted with nothing in return.
(WILLIAMS, Ore.) - It seems to be a record. This legislative session there were over two dozen bills introduced which would change our landmark Oregon Medical Marijuana Act!
Ranging the whole gamut from good to bad to ugly, the number of bills portended a hectic session. But after only two hearings, one in the House and one in the Senate, the only ones left moving were HB 2881 and SB 388. All the action centered on SB 388.
SB 388, a product of private talks between Stormy Ray and varied law enforcement representatives, was introduced on January 28 and immediately drew howls of outrage from the larger medical cannabis community.
Portrayed as a compromise by Ray, it was actually a sellout to law enforcement, giving them most of what they wanted with nothing in return.
By the time the March 2 hearing took place before the Human Services and Rural health Policy Committee, the opposition was so vast that it took two days of hearings to take all the testimony.
Right after that, SBs 956-960, which in sum would essentially change the OMMP to a non-functional bystander, were introduced by the cops.
Amendments to SB 388 were quickly offered by both sides and after much silence and work behind closed doors, a hearing was scheduled for April 20 for a combined version of all bills and amendments.
This hearing only took two hours but the result was the same-rejection of the bill by all of the medical cannabis community.
With a Work Session scheduled for April 27, work proceeded furiously to produce a bill which was supportable. It seemed that a new version appeared every day right through the weekend before the Work Session, each somehow different and each unsupportable.
The Work Session started on time that Monday with several bills on the agenda. The Chair, Senator Morrisette, after calling the hearing room to order made an astonishing announcement.
He explained that the committee had concluded that the bill needed more work and would not be on the agenda for the day.
He then blew everyone away by stating that the bill was to be set over until February! Next year!
As it turned out, no version produced was supported by any side to the discussion. The cops, Ray and the larger majority of the advocates all opposed the bill.
It also seems that the committee was sincerely tired of the chaos which appeared before them whenever the issue arose.
They spoke of being dismayed and frustrated by the lack of consensus in the medical cannabis community with one member stating that unless some movement towards consensus was made, there was doubt whether any more interest, energy or time existed to do further work on medical cannabis issues.
As of April 29, even with overtures being made by some to work towards consensus on a perhaps very simplified and non-controversial SB 388, there seems to be no movement towards that goal by Ray and her group.
So it is most likely that the medical cannabis community will remain divided until that move occurs.
And until that move occurs, I would be surprised if any medical cannabis issues were addressed by this legislature.
Laird Funk authored the first medical marijuana bill in the Oregon Legislature in 1993 and has been a medical Cannabis advocate since then. He has been very active in the 2009 legislative session and serves on the Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana. He lives in Williams, Oregon.
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