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Mar-02-2011 12:08printcomments

Pro-Cannabis Supporters Rally for Medical Marijuana Rights in Oregon

Medical marijuana activists rallied at the Capitol against proposed 'restrictive' legislation

Cannabis rally in Oregon
Rally at the Oregon Capitol on 23 Feb 2011. Photos and video by Bonnie King,

(SALEM, Ore.) - About 75 people stood outside Oregon’s capitol last Wednesday in the freezing cold, demanding their health rights are respected by the legislature.

Several bills are up for discussion in front of Oregon’s legislature regarding the 1998 law which allows use of medicinal marijuana.

While the House Bill 2982 was being heard before the House Judiciary Committee inside the capitol, dozens of patients braved the winter weather and rallied against the potential changes in the OMMP.

“We will turn out in force for every public hearing of every bill we strongly oppose,” said Robert Wolfe, director of the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative (OMPI), a coalition of pro-medical-marijuana interest groups.

Advocacy groups in attendance were Oregon Green Free, Salem NORML, Voter Power, Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse (MAMA), Medical Cannabis Research, The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF), Patient Grower Network, and the Mercy Center.

Regarding HB 2981, Wolfe said, "Essentially this bill would seek to punish citizens who have committed a past felony, but have also served their time and are now sick, or perhaps dying. It's a form of re-punishment and re-criminalization."

Rep. Mike Schauffler, a Democrat from Happy Valley, Oregon showed his disregard for Oregon doctors when he said, “I support medical marijuana for people suffering, but it has been wildly abused. There are doctors who hand out hundreds of cards to people who don’t need them.”

The Representative was not just implying, but stated directly that he believes doctors are willing to put their careers and reputations on the line to lie about a patient’s conditions.

The insult was heard loud and clear by nearly 4,000 Oregon doctors whom have signed applications for patients, the 50,000 patients and caregivers, and the millions of Oregon voters who passed the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.

There is no "us against them" situation however.

Bills proposed to impose new restrictions on Oregon medical marijuana patients:

SB 327: Creates crime of unlawful manufacture of marijuana on public land. Punishes by maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment, $375,000 fine, or both.

SB 645: Allows employer to institute drug-free workplace for employees, regardless of whether employee has a card.

SB 646: Expands ability of employer to bar use of medical marijuana outside of workplace (current law already says employers do not need to accommodate use by cardholders in workplace).

SB 708: Directs law enforcement and Oregon Health Authority to develop system to identify more readily who is allowed to grow medical marijuana and where.

SB 777: Modifies list of debilitating medical conditions for which medical marijuana is available and removes power of Oregon Health Authority to add other debilitating medical conditions to list, and requires cardholder to provide updated documentation from physician every six months instead of annually.

HB 2982: Requires criminal background check by Oregon Health Authority on people who possess medical marijuana cards, and to deny applications and revoke cards issued to people convicted of felony involving controlled substance.

HB 2994: Bars operation of marijuana grow site within 2,500 feet of school or place of worship.

HB 3046: Allows cooperatives to grow medical marijuana, but taxes them at 10 percent of profits, and half of money must fund Oregon Medical Marijuana Program; it also bars growing other than by cooperatives, individual cardholders or caregivers. As revenue-raising measures, requires 60 percent majorities for passage. As of 2013, eliminates registration of marijuana grow sites not operated by cooperative or at residence of registry identification cardholder or designated primary caregiver.

HB 3077: Requires cardholders to be Oregon residents.

HB 3093: Limits possession of usable medical marijuana to one ounce. The limit would apply to all cardholders.

HB 3129: Makes it easier for Health Authority to release information about growers and grow sites to law enforcement.

HB 3132: People convicted of specific drug crimes would not be able to get Oregon Medical marijuana permits.

HB 3202: Removes caregivers from authorized list of growers, limits individual cardholders or specific designees growing for no more than four; also has 1,000-foot limit from schools.

All Oregonians are affected by changes to the OMMA. All have an interest, an investment in its success. As is the case with any large cause, miscommunication and self-motivated interests are its enemy. In a management forum, this is to be expected, and prevented. In a large scale community effort however, this continuity is much more difficult to attain, and maintain.

Before the bills hit the legislature, controversy was already showing it's antagonistic head. There is a small faction of the cannabis community that, though they profess to have the best intentions of the medical patients at heart, regularly join forces to put forth legislation that is not a reflection of the majority of those very patients.

The controversial cooperative bill (HB 3046) was introduced on the first day of the Legislature, February 1st, written by Stormy Ray. Ray is well known for being one of the co-chief petitioners of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act in 1998.

Stormy Ray suffers from multiple sclerosis, and is wheelchair-bound. She uses cannabis medicinally, and has formed a foundation to share her message with others. Since then, her support of measures that divide the cannabis community has kept her in the spotlight.

“Stormy has spent very little time coordinating with the rest of the medical marijuana patient community, and ironically, she has become highly focused on what law enforcement wants, instead of what the patients need. Both times that a dispensary measure has made the ballot, Stormy has been very vocal in her opposition,” wrote Jennifer Alexander, pro-cannabis activist.

“Stormy said ‘Patients have done a phenomenal job of managing the system to rise above their own illnesses to work together.’ And yet, under her proposed cooperative bill, she has removed the potential for patients to work together.”

Stormy Ray, 2 March 2009 (SB388)

It is this kind of unrest stemming from questionable motivations and undefined unified goals that keeps cannabis patients wary of all legislation. And so, they show up en masse to protect themselves, and to make themselves heard by the elected officials inside the Capitol doors.

10 House bills and 5 Senate bills (See LEFT) seeking new restrictions to the state’s medical marijuana law have been proposed since the start of the legislative session.

Some of the bills present ideas that pro-cannabis activists consider as “nuisance bills”, created to waste time and taxpayers dollars. Ideas go from reducing the amount of marijuana a cardholder can possess to changing the list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be ‘prescribed’ (SB 777 and HB 3202).

Others set up cooperatives as the only legal points of distribution of legal medical marijuana (HB 3046), make it a Class A felony for unlawful manufacture of marijuana on public land (SB 327), and prohibit the operation of a marijuana grow site within 2,500 feet of school or place of worship (HB 2994), and (HB 2982) would require criminal background checks on all existing medical-marijuana cardholders, a number that now exceeds 58,000, according to state statistics.

“We hope our show of force will convince legislators to enter into a reasonable discussion with us and table some of these bills,” said Robert Wolfe, OMPI.

After the hearings, co-chairs will decide if each bill should be sent to a work session for amendment discussions so any “changes” would not be implemented for some time, even if they passed.
Opponents say if these bills do somehow pass, there will be tens of thousands of physically disabled patients in Oregon, unable to receive their medication, who will have to turn to the black market to receive their medicine, or turn to prescription “hard drugs” for relief, which killed 32,000 people in America in 2009, alone. Cannabis has killed none, and that is the number one positive factor of using it medicinally.

Some legislators contend that the current requirements to use marijuana medicinally is “lax”, and that it is extremely easy to become a permit holder- proving them to be uninformed regarding the multiple steps would-be patients comply with in order to be accepted by the state run program.

Those same people say that patients are “angry about program misuse”, though the majority of the arguments come from non-cannabis users and this alleged anger has not been verified by any legitimate resource.

On the other hand, Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, said lawmakers may be driven more by their political circumstances than by expertise in medicine or pain treatment and it should be left to doctors and scientists to decide who best benefits from medicinal cannabis.

“We all have certain biases when it comes to marijuana,” he said. “And there are legislators with personal and built-in biases about recreational marijuana use, and they treat medical uses of marijuana in the same way. They are two different animals.”

True that they are different issues, but the connection between the two is undeniable. Causing problems for legal medical marijuana patients will inevitably affect recreational users as well, which may be the motivation in the first place.

For millions of like-minded Americans however, ending prohibition of cannabis on a federal level is the ultimate goal, a change that would create a global domino effect of peace and tolerance.

And that-- seems to be the real objection.

For more Cannabis-related stories and factual information, go to: Cannabis De-Classified

Publisher Bonnie King has been with since August '04. Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and NIE/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers.

View articles written by Bonnie King

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Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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xexon April 13, 2011 2:15 pm (Pacific time)

I worked on the first serious attempt to legalize pot back in the early 80's with OMI, the Oregon Marijuana initiative. I used to collect petition signatures right at the front door of the state capitol. We used to have pot lucks and reggae bands there on the steps as well. The Reagan era feds told the governer if that passed legalization they'd all be arrested. So they said we didn't have enough "valid" signatures. They were probably right but we made our point anyway and laid the groundwork for what you have to work with today.Carry on. x

Leonard Krivitsky, MD March 4, 2011 7:00 am (Pacific time)

Cannabis prohibition is doomed to failure, as it is based on a series of total "un-realities", which no amount of repression can make "real". Cannabis is NOT physically addictive as it lacks a documented physical withdrawal syndrome, the so-called "gateway drug theory discredited as invalid, much touted by the DEA drug Marinol is not at all the same as medicinal cannabis, smoking Cannabis does not increase the risk of lung cancer, and cannabis use suppresses violent behavior. These are REALITIES! To further say that Cannabis plant does not have medicinal properties is simply delusional and is a complete "break" with "reality". If anti-Cannabis repression by the DEA and its allies were to be intensified, the rate of alcohol, cocaine, opiates, other hard drugs, alcohol, and dangerous prescription drugs would increase sharply. Neither the DEA, not its minions can make people perceive Cannabis as "unsafe", where is in reality it is quite safe, much safer than alcohol and other alternatives. With the rise of the use of alcohol/hard drugs, the amount of violence and mayhem in this society will also rise, something that every mother and wife should consider. In these hard economic times our so-called "representatives" do not even dare talking about cutting the bloated DEA budget, especially its so-called "marijuana" enforcement, while they are willing to discuss cutting everything else. This is because the DEA and its minions are very good with attaching labels, and no one wants to risk being "labeled" as "soft on drugs"! The employment drug tests have a potential of "screening out" "Picassos", and Lady GaGa's, and Willie Nelsons, but letting people like Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson slip through (if the employers are "lucky"). And to say that Cannabis Plant does not have medicinal properties is simply delusional! Cannabis prohibition, as based on glaring scientific and philosophical "un-realities" and can never succeed in the long run!

Dean Nelson March 3, 2011 11:25 am (Pacific time)

Jaime , those boys are well over 18 , they are my sons . I am very proud and honored to be their father and to see what they personally have done to promote our cause . Lighten up before inserting foot .

Cheryl Kopp March 3, 2011 6:35 am (Pacific time)

Jaime, why the heck are you so irreverent? This article was well presented both in writing and video. I attended this gathering with friends, we drove an hour to be there. It was a very cold day and the people that showed up to protest the proposed changes to the current OMMP laws were informed and brave. I recently moved to Oregon to support my husband and his choice of medicine for his chronic pain and degeneration. I support and believe for public benefit marijuana laws need to be equalized with the same laws that provide us our other medicinal herbs such as lavender, mint etc..I choose to grow these herbs to the benefit of my families health. Cannabis is an herb, used correctly it has proven to benefit a variety of chronic ailments. Thanks for the article and information provided with it.

Editor: Thanks for that.

Jaime Pickering March 2, 2011 1:19 pm (Pacific time)

Why the hell were those kids holding signs? Why were those kids not in school? The OMMP has nothing to do with children under the age of 18. You wonder why they won't change the laws about marijuana, It's because of stupid acts like this. I use Marijuana as medicine. I am a single dad of 2 boys. I would never involve them in this.

Editor: There absolutely are patients under 18, you are misinformed.  Moreover, every person in this nation should be a participant in the political process.  Also, are you aware of home schooling?  Don't assume you know more than you do Jaime.  They have changed laws, the Stormy Ray team is sold out and working for the other side, sounds like you might be also.  My advice?  Get over it,we are talking about a plant and a very misguided system of laws to ever decide it was 'illegal'.  

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