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Monday, September 20,2010

State governments reconsidering medical marijuana dispensaries

By McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Last week, Michigan authorities raided three Oakland County marijuana dispensaries, confiscated files and plants and arrested 15 people, charging them with dealing marijuana, among other offenses. The move stunned patients, who are allowed by state law to use the drug legally as long as they have a required state-issued card declaring medical need.

But the statute, put on the books by a successful 2008 ballot initiative, says nothing about dispensaries. Instead, it only allows patients to grow their own pot, or to get it from a caregiver who can provide marijuana to no more than five people.

The Oakland County incident highlights a legal conundrum at the heart of many states' marijuana laws. In seven of the 14 states that allow marijuana use for medical purposes, registered patients are allowed to grow their own supply or designate somebody as their grower. Michigan is one of those states. But the Michigan law is silent on how patients or their providers are supposed to begin growing an otherwise tightly controlled drug.

"The federal law says no (to dispensaries). The state law says no," says Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper.

But how are patients and caregivers supposed to get seeds and cuttings or learn how to grow marijuana without a dispensary to guide them?

"Beats the heck out of me," Cooper says. "These statutes aren't well written."

Statutes such as the one in Michigan can present a chicken-and-egg problem: It's legal for some people to smoke pot, but how they're supposed to get it is less clear. "It's a very gray area," says Michelle Komorn, a Michigan attorney who represents medical marijuana patients. "How do I get started? How do I get seeds?"

In several of these states, entrepreneurs have opened dispensaries even though they are not explicitly permitted under state law. As the Michigan raids show, those dispensaries can find themselves in a tricky legal position. In Colorado, which has similar laws, Governor Bill Ritter this summer signed a bill requiring dispensaries to grow 70 percent of the pot they sell. The law was an effort to rein in the unregulated storefronts that have popped up around the state.

"None of these states have provided clarity in their laws," says Allen St. Pierre, director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "Almost all parties, including prosecutors and law enforcement, seem to accept the magical quality of how the cannabis seems to arrive at the patient's home."

Murky legalities are nothing new when it comes to medical marijuana. Using marijuana with or without a prescription remains illegal under federal law. But a recent memo from the U.S. Justice Department suggests that the Obama administration won't prosecute marijuana users who are abiding by state laws.

Fourteen years after California became the first state to allow medical marijuana, states are increasingly confronted with unexpected problems in the rules governing the use and the distribution of the drug.

At first, states looking to allow medical marijuana viewed California as a model to avoid. That was because prescriptions were easy to get, and storefront dispensaries proliferated.

Oregon and Maine seemed to offer more prudent models, because they envisioned that patients would grow their own cannabis or get it from a trusted source, rather than allow storefronts to open. In many of the states that followed this model, people can legally use marijuana but they can't legally buy it. Instead, they compensate growers for their services, or their labor — -a legal distinction that keeps them from running afoul of the law.

Lately, however, the legal tangles surrounding home cultivation have states considering a return to the dispensary model, but with stringent safeguards to prevent retail sites from blossoming out of control.

In New Jersey last year, former Governor Jon Corzine signed one of the nation's toughest medical marijuana laws. It prohibits home cultivation and allows only six nonprofit distribution centers, all of them tightly regulated by the state.

Medical marijuana also became legal this year in the District of Columbia, where patients will have to obtain it at a city-licensed dispensary. In Maryland, a bill with similar provisions sailed through the state Senate before getting bogged down in the House.

"Politicians now are very hesitant to allow home cultivation," says St. Pierre. "Whereas that was pretty much what they were attracted to."

States with existing medical marijuana laws have gone back to tweak them. Rhode Island last year allowed the operation of "compassion centers" to dispense the drug to patients. In April, Maine enacted legislation that allows up to eight nonprofit dispensaries to operate. But Arkansas, Hawaii, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington still give little or no guidance to patients looking to acquire seeds or cuttings.

In Oregon, a ballot initiative this November will attempt to clarify how plants get into patients' hands. If approved, Measure 74 will allow dispensaries to open under the watch of the Oregon Health Authority. Jim Klahr, an Oregon medical marijuana advocate, says the measure will allow patients instant access to their medicine, rather than having to wait for their plants to mature. (For Stateline's guide to this year's ballot measures, click here.)

Right now, patients gather in informal swap meets to learn how to start cultivating marijuana and to exchange seeds or advice, all the while avoiding direct financial transactions. Oregon's informal distribution system came under pressure in 2005 when a U.S. Supreme Court decision found that a patient using medical marijuana under California's law was in violation of federal law. But an opinion from the Oregon Attorney General's office said that the state's program could continue despite the court's ruling.

In Michigan, where a legislative fix seems unlikely, the 15 people arrested in Oakland County are awaiting trial. It takes a supermajority of 75 percent of the Legislature to amend a voter-initiated statute, which means that the confusion there is not likely to go away anytime soon.

"It's really through the court system that this needs to be clarified," Komorn says.


(c) 2010, Stateline.org

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Voters were told the OMMP program was for the sick/dying, less than 4% is for cancer.  Over 88% is used for common pain.    A single doctor is responsible for recommending approximately 35% of all medical marijuana cards, with ten doctors recommending 59% of all cards.


It would take thousands not hundreds of Marijuana DISTRIBUTION CENTERS and Marijuana GROW SITES around the State of Oregon to provide the allowable pot for the current 36,380 cardholders, since the Act allows each center and grow site to possess 24 plants and 96 ounces of dried marijuana, which is the allowable total by law for 4 cardholders.  DISTRIBUTION CENTERS and GROW SITES can possess plants and usable marijuana quantities sufficient to roll 81,600 joints total between the center and the grow site. 

Does not limit number of DISTRIBUTION CENTERS and GROW SITES or address local government bans and limits.

Permissible locations for marijuana distribution centers; initially shall not be established within 1,000 feet of any school or within residential neighborhoods. The word initially, seems to indicate that permissible locations could change, as well as 1,000 feet is only a ¼ mile away from schools and neighborhoods and centers and grow sites could be located near libraries, churches, youth clubs, parks, swimming pools, game arcades, and daycares.

Felonies such as violence/theft within the last 5 years bars participation in a distribution center.  Drug related offenses are not referenced, which means that any drug related felony criminal would be allowed to operate a center or grow site. 


Center directors/employees and Grow Site Producers/employee’s must be an Oregon Resident, but no duration of previous residency is required, opening the door for hundreds of people to flood to Oregon. 

GROW SITES can include marijuana grown in your neighbors yard or house. Indoor growing presents dangers because of toxic materials and high volumes of electricity increasing the potential for fires that would spread to neighboring homes, putting the community at risk. The smell of growing marijuana in growers back yards are stinking up neighborhoods around the State.  Grow sites attract in home burglaries, robberies, and homicides which Oregon and other medical marijuana states are already experiencing causing law enforcement to have to divert their resources to deal with the abuses in the current program.  


CARDHOLDERS could obtain the maximum amount of marijuana allowed by law from one distribution center and then go to another and do the same, as well as grow at home.  The current system is completely unregulated and 74 does nothing to change that and continues to allow cardholders to  grow at home or have caregivers grow for them, yet  allows another layer of marijuana distribution centers and grow sites around the State.  A law enforcement nightmare!

Oregon Voters bought the compassion message in 1998, now 12 years later we clearly understand that it is not about compassion, it is about public safety for all Oregonians, not just a limited few.

NO Limits, NO Boundaries, NO ON MEASURE 74 IN OREGON



1- I suppose they could go back to the morphine, oxycotin or other opiate derivative, and acetometaphine. All of these substances are more problematic then Cannabis. Acetometaphine is actually very damaging to the liver despite its lacking psychotropic effects. 2-The upfront costs and space issues related to production of Cannabis are a significant barrier to production. Anyone assisting a patient is literally expected to work for free under penalty of law. Reimbursements can only be made for materials. Debating the number of producers and dispensaries required to supply patients us specious. Joints are the least acceptable form of medicinal Cannabis consumption. Much of the medical Cannabis being consumed is in the form of tincture or food which requires much larger quantities as oral administration results in less than 50% absorption rates. 3- Distance regulations for any Cannabis facility should be no different than a pharmacy or Alcohol vendor as Cannabis is much safer and healthier then Alcohol and most pharmaceuticals. Any legal infractions for dispensing in disaccord with the measure will likely result in penalties similar to pharmacies and Alcohol vendors as the Health Department deems fit. Aside from that, the Health Department may increase the distance for dispensaries and implement a distance policy for dispensaries. It is likely producers will be relegated to industrial, commercial, and agricultural zones while dispensaries will be relegated to industrial and commercial zones. 4- Drug felons that are convicted after the date of implementation of the measure are subject to the same restrictions as any other felon. The idea that someone convicted of a Cannabis violation before the implementation of this measure should be denied the opportunity to be a legal Cannabis worker is morally defunct. Please refer to Section 3 subsection 6(a): http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/irr/2010/028text.pdf 5- Complaining about residency issues is exceptionally Statist. God forbid someone move to Oregon because it has a favorable climate. 6- Growing Cannabis at one’s house is no different than growing Tomatoes. In fact, Cannabis production will use less toxic chemicals because of residue issues with the finished product. Electricity concerns are a no issue if the wiring is done by a certified professional. The State has safety regulations that Cannabis producers will not be exempt from. Additionally, the State Health Department is required to establish a regulatory structure for both Producers and Dispensaries. The black market is huge, and a large portion is supplied by indoor growers. Banks cause bank robberies; I suppose we should outlaw banks then. 7- The public safety argument is inverted….If one is concerned about public safety, then one would argue for the legalization of all drugs. After all, how dangerous is it to grow some barley and hops? How dangerous is it to brew one’s own beer and wine? How dangerous were these activities during Alcohol prohibition? Illicit markets fund organized crime and do nothing to actually fight it. The person posting the arguments against Measure 74 is not concerned with public safety. If they are, then they do not properly understand what public safety is. This measure provides Oregon with an opportunity to establish a rational regulatory structure for Medical Cannabis production and distribution without abolishing the original measure, establish research programs, and provides its citizens with a legal avenue to actually make a living from producing high quality Cannabis products. Please read the measure its self and make your own conclusion. http://www.oregonvotes.org/nov22010/meas.html http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/irr/2010/028text.pdf


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Measure 74 is the compassionate and sensible vote to help regulate the Oregon medical marijuana supply system. The measure will improve the lives of sick and disabled patients while creating new jobs and generating revenue for Oregon health programs.  


Watch Pro-Oregon's commercial supporting Measure 74 on Youtube: http://is.gd/fGbtP



NO Limits, NO Boundaries, NO on M74.





NO Limits, NO Boundaries, NO on M74.


M74 does nothing to deal with the existing unregulated and out of control marijuana program in Oregon. It is only adding another dimension of problems for our communities.


There are thousands of legal marijuana growers in our State that are not inspected. M74 does nothing to reframe or control the existing program, as M74 will not infringe on a cardholder’s ability to produce their own marijuana or to designate a person responsible for a marijuana grow site, to do so for them. In home grows and existing caregiver growers will continue to go unregulated and unchecked continuing to create problems in our communities and cause law enforcement to have to divert their resources to deal with the existing abuses.


Voters can look outside Oregon for examples of reasons why NOT to allow a federally illegal drug into our State in any form. From California to Colorado the black market will remain! http://mexicoinstitute.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/why-legalization-in-mexico-is-not-a-panacea-for-reducing-violence-and-suppressing-organized-crime/


Conflict and Confusion have been created with the current program because it has tried to circumvent the Food and Drug administration whose primary job has been to research marijuana for its medical value and have noted that there is currently no medical value in marijuana.


Quality of Life is measured by safe and credible access for cardholders by following the correct channels that have been used in this Country for years when approving safe medicines.


M74 instills fear and creates uncertainty for Oregon Voters because in 1998 they sold us a bill of goods and told us it was only for the sick and dying. Now 12 years later the current program is out of control! Less than 4% use the program for cancer and over 88% use the program for common pain.


In 1998 proponents of the OMMP program thought nothing of the potential risks that it would create in communities around our State. Long Term problems are not solved by trying to mask existing problems with M74.

Oregon Voters should agree not to be duped again and JUST SAY NEVER!



NO Limits, NO Boundaries, NO on M74.