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Medical Marijuana Patients Deserve Safe Access And Compassion, Not Disrespect

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Medical marijuana patients deserve safe access and compassion, not disrespect

Some thoughts from Oregon.

Published: Friday, August 06, 2010, 8:00 AM

By Anthony Johnson


The Oregonian Editorial Board denigrated not only the supporters of Measure 74 but also all medical marijuana patients with its recent editorial on medical marijuana.


The editorial board purports to know the intentions of the supporters of the measure as well as the medical condition of all 36,000 medical marijuana patients. The board contends that all those who support the initiative, which would establish a nonprofit dispensary program, are really only interested in legalization of marijuana for adults and that the 32,614 medical marijuana patients who list "severe pain" as one of their qualifying conditions aren't really patients. No, they must be considered less worthy than patients who use pharmaceutical narcotics like OxyContin and Percocet. They must be stigmatized within quotations, as "patients." And so, the board reasons, Measure 74 should be dismissed on its face.


But the board wasn't satisfied with just ridiculing supporters of the measure and belittling sick and disabled patients. It called medical marijuana a "charade." Apparently, the board doesn't believe that marijuana is medicine because there's no other reason to have quotations around "medical marijuana" and "medicine." I trust that members of the board would deny a loved one undergoing chemotherapy the use of medical marijuana to alleviate his or her severe nausea because they consider marijuana a charade.


Oregon voters declared nearly 12 years ago that "marijuana should be treated like other medicines." Fourteen states and our nation's capitol have now legalized medical marijuana. The Oregon Board of Pharmacy rescheduled marijuana, declaring its medicinal value. The Obama administration has implemented a policy to not prosecute patients and their providers. The Department of Veterans Affairs has adopted a policy to not deny care or benefits to medical cannabis patients. And yet, The Oregonian Editorial Board has joined anti-patient activists in ridiculing patients battling disease, sickness and disability.


Measure 74 will provide safe access to patients through nonprofit dispensaries – safe access to patients like Alice Ivany, co-chief petitioner of the initiative. Ivany suffers severe pain from her arm being torn off in a horrific factory accident. She has found that medical marijuana helps relieve her pain better than other medicines. Unfortunately for her, she didn't have access to medical marijuana for over a year after registering with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. Many patients are like Alice and don't know how to acquire medical cannabis. Patients battling severe pain or who must undergo chemotherapy deserve safe access and shouldn't have to grow their own medicine or turn to the black market.


Nonprofit dispensaries and their producers will pay licensing fees and quarterly sums equal to 10% of their gross revenue. This additional revenue, estimated to be $20 million in the first year by the Oregon Health Authority, will fund medical marijuana research and establish a program to assist low-income and home-bound patients. Any additional funds may be allocated to other health programs.


It isn't often that voters have an opportunity to demonstrate compassion while also creating new jobs and generating additional revenue for the state. The nonprofit dispensary program that Measure 74 would create is that opportunity and it deserves to be debated on its own merits.


Anthony Johnson is director of Oregon Green Free Clinical Services and co-author and co-chief petitioner for Measure 74.


Michael A. Komorn

Attorney and Counselor

Law Office of Michael A. Komorn

800-656-3557 (Toll Free)

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Email: michael@komornlaw.com

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