Pubdate: Thu, 12 Mar 2009
Source: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Copyright: 2009 Statesman Journal
Author: Tracy Loew
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Regulation)


Lawmakers Say House Bill Would Improve Public Safety

The state would take over growing and distributing marijuana to 
patients in the medical-marijuana program under a bill introduced in 
the Legislature on Wednesday.

"Our current system isn't working, and we need to move quickly to 
protect patient safety," said Rep. Ron Maurer, R-Grants Pass.

House Bill 3274 directs the state to establish and operate a 
marijuana production facility and distribute the drug to pharmacies 
for dispensing to cardholders and primary caregivers. The bill 
imposes a $98-per-ounce tax on marijuana, which would cover the 
state's costs of operating and securing the production center.

Lawmakers said they think the bill would improve public safety by 
eliminating private medical-marijuana grow sites.

Some private growers have been accused of illegally selling marijuana 
to noncardholders, and other sites have been targeted by burglaries 
and home invasions.

"House Bill 3274 takes medical marijuana off the streets and into a 
safer and more secure environment," said Rep. Chris Harker, D-Beaverton.

It also could improve patient safety.

"Many patients have no assurance that their marijuana is not laced 
with pesticides or other toxic chemicals," said Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas.

Oregon voters approved the state's medical-marijuana law in 1998, 
making it the second state in the country to remove criminal 
penalties for medical marijuana. Currently, 13 states allow medical marijuana.

In 2004, voters rejected a measure that would create state 
distribution centers.

Current law allows registered patients to possess six mature cannabis 
plants, 18 immature seedlings and 24 ounces of usable cannabis.

"Oregonians have voted to authorize the use of medical marijuana, yet 
the Legislature has failed to provide adequate safeguards for 
citizens who have a legitimate need for it," said Rep. Carolyn Tomei, 

As of January, 20,842 patients and 10,424 caregivers held 
medical-marijuana cards.

The bill has not been assigned to a committee.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom