To the editor;
The Dalles Chronicle is right to endorse Measure 33. It is a reasonable compassionate measure designed to insure that qualified patients can get medical marijuana if they need it. Our current medical marijuana law has proven that marijuana has medical value. Over 10,000 patients have been qualified by 1500 different Oregon physicians. These patients report that marijuana lessens their pain, stops spasms, relieves nausea and makes them feel better. The main shortcoming of the current law is that it requires patients to produce their own medicine or find a caregiver to give them marijuana for free. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that sick people can't produce their own medicine.
Measure 33 creates a system of Health Department regulated nonprofit dispensaries where patients can obtain medical marijuana in a safe regulated environment. This will mean a dramatic improvement in both the quality and availabilty of patients' medical marijuana. Regulated dispensaries will be able to offer advanced medical marijuana products of consistent potency. The current "grow your own" system leaves patients wondering how strong their marijuana will be.
The concern about county run dispensaires misunderstands the measure. Most counties will have private nonprofit dispensaries. If not, the county health department will simply have to purchase medical marijuana from the nearest private dispensary and sell it (at a price set to cover all costs) to unserved patients in that county. This certainly won't be at the expense of other programs. More likely these county dispensaries would generate revenue that helps fund other programs.
The medical marijuana program has been a great financial success and Measure 33 will expand that. Merely registering patients has created a surplus of over $1 million. The private dispensaries will pay fees that will likely generate tens of millions of dollars for state coffers.
The concern that Measure 33 will lead to massive abuse is misplaced. The measure creates a highly regulated system that is subject to far less abuse than the current completely unregulated supply system. After Measure 33 passes, most patients will close down their own gardens and get their medicine at dispensaries that are licensed, audited and inspected. This regulation will prevent abuse, not create it. Measure 33 calls for ongoing regulation by the Health Department. It also creates a commission to suggest further legislative changes if they are needed. We shouldn't let our fears overwhelm our compassion.
Marijuana is medicine when used carefully under a doctor's supervision. Denying this medicine to patients who benefit from it is cruel and inhumane. Imagine your loved one unable to obtain a medicine that helps them.
Please vote yes on 33.