The Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that will allow for the licensing and regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries. This comes as a relief to many patients, who have been allowed to either grown their own medicine or appoint someone else to do so. There has previously been no option of legally purchasing medical marijuana in Oregon; however, the bill still has to pass into the senate before it can be signed into law.
In a 31-27 vote, Oregon House Bill 3460 barely passed. The bill allows for medical marijuana and immature medical marijuana plants to distributed to patients with a valid card from a doctor. While many lawmakers believe that this a step in the right direction, there are some who believe that the bill is too loosely written. Amongst those people is Rep. Andy Olsen, a former Oregon State Police officer.
Opposing Views Within the Oregon House
According to Olsen, he is not against the intended result of the bill. “It’s not that I’m opposed to medical marijuana. I’m a major advocate for those who are in need of marijuana as a medicine. I am opposed to the abuse,” he said. After his lengthy speech, he concluded by saying that he would happily work with the other party on a bill that was more comprehensive and concise.
Overall, legalization would take the black market out of Oregon.
-Rep. Peter Buckley
On the other hand, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Peter Buckley and supporting lawmakers argued that the bill is a necessity, and that while it may not fix all issues with the program, it is a step in the right direction. Referring to the marijuana black market, “[It] is out of hand.” Buckley also argued that there is an inability to track all of the cardholders and growers, which is a growing problem.
Under the bill, the facilities would be required to pay a fee of $4,000 each for registration. If an estimated 225 facilities register, the state would receive about $900,000 in the next two years, which would help pay for the costs of developing the new registration system.
While lawmakers spend time debating the issues, patients claim that they are the ones suffering. Many patients claim the inability to effectively grow their own medicine, and some even admit to having to turn to the black market in order to get their medicine.
Any way you look at it, the winds of change are blowing in Oregon. Even though Oregon House Bill 3460 passed, and even if it passes the senate, it does not change the legality of marijuana according to the federal government. Marijuana still remains a schedule I drug under federal law. This means that Oregon dispensaries and patients are constantly under the threat of being targeted by federal authorities, despite the fact that the people of the state have properly taken the issue through the system, voted, and approved, just as 17 other states and Washington, D.C. have. Now there’s a little food for thought.
Image courtesy of Dank Depot.