Forgive our naivete, but we thought Oregon's medical marijuana system was working pretty much as designed.
Since 1998, when voters decided to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana, pretty near 40,000 people have signed up.
Yet now we're being asked to believe that marijuana, though legal to use and to grow for people with prescriptions, is just too hard to get.
More important, we're being asked, by way of Measure 74 on the Nov. 2, to solve this "problem" by allowing an unlimited number of medical marijuana dispensaries to be opened in Oregon.
We don't believe such a drastic change is necessary.
We urge voters to reject Measure 74.
Firstly, we're not convinced that obtaining marijuana is nearly as
onerous as Measure 74, with its near absence of limitations, implies.
Current law allows medical marijuana cardholders to either grow their
own, or to have someone else handle the cultivation (a reasonable
allowance, considering some cardholders have debilitating diseases that
preclude them from gardening).
A designated grower can supply up to four cardholders with six mature
marijuana plants, and 18 starts or seedlings, and 24 ounces of usable
When you consider that people who lack the legal privilege to grow,
sell or use marijuana seem to show up regularly on police blotters
across the state, it's hard to believe that people who don't need to
hide their pot-related activity can't maintain a steady supply.
But even if we conceded that some medical marijuana patients are being
deprived of their medicine, we couldn't endorse Measure 74.
The measure is much too lenient. It allows bureaucrats rather than voters to make critical decisions.
For instance, the measure sets no limit on the number of medical marijuana dispensaries.
Nor does the measure limit the amount of marijuana cardholders can buy.
Measure 74 exempts dispensary employees from prosecution for certain
marijuana offenses so long as the employees are in "substantial
compliance" with medical marijuana laws. Yet the measure doesn't define
Prosecutors worry that the measure amounts to a stay-out-of-jail card for people running dispensaries.
Even more astounding, the measure would allow convicted felons to run or work in a dispensary five years after their conviction.
If it's not possible to operate dispensaries without employing
non-felons, we can't help but wonder just how many of these places it's
going to take to satiate Oregon's medical marijuana patients.
The bottom line is that if Oregon's medical marijuana cardholders are
indeed ailing, there surely are more responsible ways to help them than
to create what's essentially a free-for-all for growers and sellers.