Pubdate: Fri, 02 Oct 2015
Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Register-Guard
Author: David Guy Evans
Note: David Guy Evans is the former principal owner of Emerald City 
Medicinal Dispensary and a former partner in Alpha Cannabis Testing 
Services in Eugene. He is a cannabis industry consultant, a former 
attorney and university professor.


A Sept. 28 Register-Guard editorial concerning the retail cannabis 
sales that began Thursday included two assertions that need to be addressed.

The 25 percent tax mentioned in the editorial is not applicable to 
interim adult recreational cannabis sales, according to the Oregon 
Health Authority website. The tax is applicable only beginning Jan. 4.

Next, the editorial asserts that those current Oregon Medical 
Marijuana Program patients most likely to drop the program in favor 
of recreational access never needed cannabis therapeutically, but 
managed to obtain patient status until recreational access became a 
reality. I believe the editors have fallen into the same trap as many 
uninformed persons who believe that many medical cannabis patients 
are using the OMMP as a dodge, rather than to address bona fide 
health care needs.

It's a given that some OMMP patients may be suffering less than 
others. However, my experience indicates that those numbers are 
extremely low. The editorial correctly states that users of medicinal 
cannabis must pay a disproportionate amount to have legal access to 
their medicine; however, this alone is not the sole consideration for 
the patients with whom I have spoken.

Clearly, there is an impetus for OMMP patients, who are more likely 
to be poor and disabled than their recreational counterparts, to 
gauge the cost of their cannabis use against the benefits. But the 
$200 yearly cost of maintaining one's OMMP patient status, while 
onerous, is not the sole consideration.

A patient's decision to remain with the OMMP or go recreational may 
hinge on the tax structure that the Legislature has crafted. 
Originally, Measure 91, the cannabis legalization initiative approved 
by voters last year, established a tax of $35 per ounce of dried 
flower, $10 per ounce of dried leaf and $5 per clone. Effective next 
January, the Legislature has substituted a 25 percent tax for the one 
voters approved.

Under Measure 91, the tax would have added $35 to the cost of an 
ounce of recreational cannabis selling for $280, for a total of $315. 
The Legislature's new tax would raise the cost of that same ounce of 
cannabis to $350. Within six months, cannabis users who consume one 
ounce per month would reach the break-even point by sticking with the 
$200-a-year OMMP, leaving them disinclined to depart from the medical program.

Patients recognize that many medicinal cannabis options are intended 
to address specific conditions for small segments of the population, 
and will never be available through adult recreational cannabis 
outlets. Cannabis patients' needs and medicines do not largely 
overlap with the products preferred by recreational cannabis users. 
Certain OMMP patients benefit more from strains of cannabis with high 
levels of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC; 
however, the diverse medical needs of many other patients demand a 
greater breadth of strains, dosing methods, and medicinal products 
for effective treatment.

Adult recreational users typically prefer higher THC strains to 
maximize their desired cerebral or corporal effects. The spectrum of 
medical cannabis patients' needs and the products to serve them is far wider.

Increasing research indicates that all cannabis users may receive 
some medicinal benefit from its use, regardless of the users' intent. 
Recreational users may not intend to benefit medicinally, but 
cannabis will do its work and interface with the endocannabinoid 
system to help the body attain balance in its health care maintenance 
of physical systems.

Although adult recreational users may benefit from cannabis 
medicinally, they may not maximize its benefits fully, depending upon 
the strains utilized, the manner and frequency of its use, and their 
own unique physiology.

Based upon my experience as one of Oregon's first eight licensed 
dispensary owners and as one who has assisted thousands of patients 
in their cannabis therapy, contrary to the editorial's projection, I 
think it as likely that many recreational cannabis users may become 
OMMP patients once they become better educated about their range of 
choices and the various benefits to be derived from cannabis.

Finally, regardless of cost, numerous OMMP cardholders have said they 
will retain their patient cards because they are medical cannabis 
patients, not recreational users: an important distinction for them, 
as they wish to retain their identity and access to the medicine that 
best meets their health care needs.

No matter the rapaciousness of Oregon's revenue-hungry legislators or 
the aspersions cast upon them by an uninformed citizenry, many OMMP 
patients will cling to their truths and to the medicine that best 
helps them and makes their lives bearable.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom