Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Measure 33: Pass the Bowl and Pass on this Bill

To my fellow Oregonians (you know who you are):

I want to start by saying that I am a proponent of medical marijuana. I supported the measure which made it legal for people with certain medical conditions to grow their own marijuana for medical purposes. I don't believe that suffering people should be kept from medicine that could make their lives even a tiny bit more bearable.

I don't use medical marijuana currently, for a few reasons. For one, I'm still breastfeeding Eden. For another, I quit smoking cigarettes 12 years ago. And I'm afraid that smoking marijuana would make it that much easier for me to pick up a pack of Camel Wides.

I don't rule it out as a possibility, however. I know medical marijuana has helped many people, including people who, like myself, are fighting MS every day. I know it helped my mother, when she was so sick from chemotherapy that she couldn't keep anything down, including much-needed medications. And that's why I supported Measure 67, because I know it can help people who so desperately need it. And I want that option, even if I end up never using it. I want it there for me if I should desperately need it.

That said, I am voting NO on Measure 33.

I have a few things to say about the measure, and about the current commercial running in support of it.

First, about the commercial: those of you in Oregon have probably seen it, but for the benefit of my non-Oregonian readers, I will describe it for you. It shows a man, in the hospital, paralyzed and barely able to speak. He tells people that:

1) He needs his medical marijuna.
2) He can't tend a garden himself.
3) That he, "like all card holders in Oregon, frequently" runs out of his medicine, and
4) He should be able to buy it from a legal pharamacy or dispensary.

Let's deal with #1 first: let me make it absolutely clear that I have no doubts whatsoever that this man needs his medical marijuana, that it helps him, and that he should have it. It bothers me that the proponents of the bill are trying so very hard to pull at the heart-strings of people to get them to vote for this bill, without really giving the facts. It makes it seem as if those who don't support this measure are cruel to suffering patients.
#2: It is clear this man cannot tend a garden himself. However, under the current law, he is able to appoint someone to do it for him. The commerical makes it sounds as if those who cannot tend the plants on their own are shit out of luck, and that's just not the way it is.
#3: I know many people who use medical marijuana, both in real life and on on-line support groups. Only a few have ever complained of "running out," and that was usually in the early, trial-and-error stage of learning how to cultivate the marijuana. The assertation that every single card holder in Oregon frequently runs out of marijuana is unsubstantiated and ridiculous.
#4: This is the claim that gets to the heart of what is wrong with this measure, why I am absolutely voting against it. Changing our program from one of patient-based and patient-provided to one of dispensaries selling to patients is the wrong move to make...wrong for patients, wrong for Oregon.

I think the best voice for voting against Measure 33 was also the best voice for voting for Measure 67: Stormy Ray. Stormy, like myself, has multiple sclerosis. She wrote a wonderful letter to The Oregonian, outlining the glaring problems with Measure 33, which you can read here. I will paraphrase some of that letter, and add my own comments (nope, no chance I'll keep 'em to myself, dear bloggies):

1) "The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act is the best medical marijuna program in the United States." I agree with this. Other states have had difficulty with their programs, and while ours is certainly not perfect, it is workable for all parties involved: the patients, the doctors, the local law enforcement. It WORKS, and shouldn't be replaced by a law that would compromise the patients, doctors and law enforcement officials.

2) "I know there are many obstacles a patient must face when growing medical marijuana....but I don't think turning our program over to the black market will help them." I agree with this wholeheartedly. The law, as it stands, is not perfect. Improvements can and should be made. But NOT with this measure. What this measure proposes to do is not improve and enhance our medical marijuna program, but to obliterate it. It would undoubtably introduce a criminal element into what has been a benign, helpful program. It would cause the Oregon police no end of trouble; and so far, our medical marijuana program hasn't cost the police force one dime or one life. This measure could change all that, by introducing black-market exploitation. The implications are far-reaching and incredibly disturbing.

3) "...expanding our program with Measure 33....would almost certainly bring federal intervention. We could even lose our medical marijuna program altogether." This is certainly a cause for alarm. We in Oregon are a rarity: not only do we have a workable medical marijuana program, we're the only state with such a program who has not seen even one patient or doctor prosecuted by the federal government. John Ashcroft, that hater of medical marijuana extraordinaire, has overlooked us...and we'd like him to keep doing so. I came across a great article on a website called Change the Climate, Inc. on this very issue, and it does a great job of explaining why Measure 33 would have Ashcroft and his nutbag cronies on Oregon's marijuana patients faster than you can say, "Cover up the titties on that statue already!" And once the feds step in and eliminate our program, the chance that we will ever win it back is slim to none. In the end, patients will suffer; they are the ones who will ultimately lose under Measure 33. And medical marijuana is supposed to be about the patient....let's keep it that way, people. The only thing that's kept the nutbags at bay thus far is that, under our current program, it is illegal to buy or sell the marijuana. Measure 33 would make it legal...and the federal government isn't going to stand idly by and let that happen. White House drug czar John Walters said that in the event Measure 33 passes, it would turn our state into a "safe haven for drug trafficking." He has even gone so far as to call the supporters of Measure 33 "suckers," which you can read about here. The drug czar's against this measure, the Oregon District Attorneys Association is against this measure, the Oregon Medical Association is against this measure.....if it passes, you'll have feds moving in, DAs ready to prosecute on the state and local level and doctors refusing to write any more medical marijuana prescriptions. Our program as we know it will end.

4) "Measure 33 will change our patient-based program to allow anyone 18 or over to grow, own and sell marijuana....regardless of criminal history...(it) places no limits on the number of plants or the amount of marijuana (dispensaries) can produce. It is not reasonable to think the state could prevent criminals from abusing this market growers will find it easier to legally exploit patients." If for no other reason, THIS should be enough to vote no on Measure 33! Would you want to get your medicine from criminals? I thought the whole point of Measure 67 and the creation of our Medical Marijuana Program was to eliminate the criminal element involved in medical marijuana. The program, as it stands, allows for patients and/or thier caretakers to grow marijuana for personal medical use. There is a reasonable limit on how many plants per patient can be grown. It eliminates the fear that a patient could be prosecuted for seeking relief from terrible symptoms. It eliminates the need (paid for by tax dollars) for police officials to investigae and arrest sick people, and the DAs from having to go through the expensive trial process. Our program, as-is, not only allows for patients to get the medicine they need, but SAVES taxpayers money! Measure 33 will destroy all that. It is also unreasonable to believe that growers, allowed to cultivate as many plants as they want, will NOT sell it for recreational use to non-cardholders, particularly criminals using the system Measure 33 proposes. Especially as this law states that poor and indigent patients would qualify for free marijuana. I worry that it would be next to impossible to enforce that; poor patients would end up paying anyway. And patients just above the poverty line would then be faced with rising costs to "cover" those who get the medicine for "free." I also do not see anything in the law that would prohibit dispensaries and growers from operating near schools. That disturbs me greatly....criminals who before faced serious charges for growing marijuana near schools and our children can now simply show 25 names of card-holders and grow the plant with impunity.

5) "Measure 33 attempts to replace our marijuna program with a bad law." And that's the bottom line, folks....this is a bad law. We already have a workable medical marijuana program in Oregon....don't destroy it with this poorly-written measure!

While I'm on the subject...shame on the Willamette Week, for printing such a biased and slanted article on Stormy's position. I've been a fan of the WW ever since I first came to Portland eight years ago; but this article was inflammatory, incorrect in all its essentials, horrendeously biased and downright shitty. It portrayes Stormy as a turncoat, who is fighting against "her friends and allies," and is "easily manipulated." Her position is never covered in this article; the only things WW mentions is that she is "fired up" about the "commerce" angle....which makes me wonder if WW bothered to read Stormy's site or interview her at all before writing this one-sided character assassination. Journalism at its worst, and I expected better of them. For shame, WW, for shame.

My fellow Oregonians, don't turn our medical marijuana program, the best in the nation, into a hotbed of criminal activity and federal focus. Don't destroy the one hope so many sick, suffering people have available to them. It is the last thing Oregon's patients medical marijuana patients need.

Vote NO on Measure 33.


At 6:01 AM, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

Im a big proponent of legalizing certain restricted drugs but this local effort to try to sell it at the Pharmacy is just asking for trouble. Im a bit of a Libertarian but in this case, I would much rather have the Federal Govt manage this kind of 'commerce' than the various states.


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