Oregon citizens passed Proposition 91 over a year ago in November making Oregon the 3rd state to “legalize cannabis”. With this legalization, came a windfall of oppressive regulation, part of it being on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). The OMMP is one of the longest standing medical cannabis programs in the country and Proposition 91 passed partially due to the fact that it did NOTHING to modify the existing medical program and community. One of the biggest contingents of “Yes” votes to Proposition 91 is the thousands of OMMP patients, caregivers and growers who understand the benefit of ending prohibition and offering the average citizen access to cannabis and cannabis products as well as releasing the thousands behind bars for cannabis related indictments. Without these votes, our 56% yes probably would never had a chance to make it over 50%.
Photography Credit to Sunnie Day Sanchez
It was very apparent that Salem and dispensary lobbyists had no intention of maintaining a “patient advocacy” and went straight to work finding creative ways to “regulate” medical growers in addition to “recreational” growers who will be buying in to the “tax and regulate” system through a licensing system. A “seed to sale” system has been hinted at and OHA has teased that an online system where growers would need to update their grow-room status on a monthly basis through a log-in system connected to Salem. Canopy limits have become the new catch phrase as the OHA follows up with the many “card-stacking caregivers” who’ve operated within the OMMP as for-profit weed manufacturers, backing dispensaries and even making branded companies.
The OMMP has long been an interface for both medically-minded but also profit-minded cannabis operators and with legalization, many in the medical community hope that a great purge will occur and many who had no business operating in the medical community will transition over to the cut-throat world of bottom-line-weed….the “recreational market”.
With this great purge, many feel that state medical programs’ days are numbered and trends have been showing that in Colorado and Washington that the medical program has been put under great pressure and patients rights have continued to be put under the microscope once a regulation scheme has been put in place. It would seem that the state tax accountants understand the folly of charging taxes per sale or per year….it’s the same in the end and people are forced to adopt an identity based on how they interface with a simple medicinal plant.
In Oregon, a committee has been formulated to make recommendations to the Oregon Health Authority regarding different subjects….testing & research, dosing, packaging and so on and so forth. This committee is made up of professionals spanning across the medical and business world and are deemed very capable in understanding the very safe nature of cannabis and explicit medicinal properties it offers regardless of self-applied label. This committee will work to publish a paper containing recommendations to the Oregon Health Authority on changes to rules within OMMP that directly affect existing patients and the relevancy of the program going forward.
The relevancy of the program hinges on patient + grower privacy and the ability for individuals to operate without forced undue fees, undue need for personal information, and undue need to regulate where plant material travels to and from.
Oregon Patients and Caregivers are not sitting still. Committee meetings are organized in Portland and Salem to offer the public an opportunity to absorb the material that is forming the opinions of the committee and the last 15 mins are designated for public feedback and discourse. Members of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program are doing activism work that affects every single American citizen. Speaking about personal liberty and access to a perfectly safe plant medicine is the crux of the argument and members of the OMMP community do not want to see their fees increase while arbitrary rules are created around dosing, packaging, testing, and what can be done with “excess medication” that is over and above the patients needs.
Making regulations on patients is very tricky business because it infringes the privacy of individual patients and their personal usage, but it also infringes the privacy and sanctity of Doctor + Patient relationships. The state’s representatives have shown from the beginning that they have no personal understanding of cannabis and cannot offer personal empathy towards individuals who’ve chosen to use plant-based medicine to help fight serious health challenges. Historically, cannabis has been shown to be completely safe, non-toxic, non-habit-forming and does not pose a risk to any facet of society, including the least inclined…children and elderly.
With the general level of safety that is inherent in cannabis use, the state and it’s employees seem to want to continue the trend of “soft prohibition” through limiting dispensary commerce, canopy limits, and creating geographical “black areas” where local councils made up of a small number of members making decisions that go counter to the vote on Proposition 91. These black-out areas do nothing more than to bolster black and grey market activity and give no opportunity for local business to capture ancillary commerce that comes with cannabis mercantilism and horticulture.
The medical community has had to stand-by and watch a program that they paid to be a part of, become at risk for not serving the people it was designed to help. There is a vacuum of leadership in the OHA and there is no figure-head looking out specifically for the OMMP program. There are no “patient-employees” of the state that can be counted on to stand up for patients, caregivers and growers who’ve worked to maintain an ethical level of activity within the medical community.
Patients and caregivers do not need the assistance of a “nanny-state” making arbitrary dosing and packaging regulations. The individuals working for the state are not evil people, they are simply products of their environment – victims of a multi-decade-long propaganda program that demonizes THC, and the plant that contains it in varied levels. Cannabis is not dangerous at any dose and cannot be made dangerous through any process. Furthermore, the subjectivity of dosing and usefulness is almost unrivaled within the plant and naturopathic world….each person is different and each person’s need is unique. The state employees who have worked to set dosage limits, canopy limits, packaging limits, and other arbitrary rules are not in themselves ignorant, they have been rendered ignorant through decades of Prohibitionist ideology being set forth by our Federal Government through “REEFER MADNESS” and it’s contemporary machinations.
Reefer Madness mentality still lives on in the minds of people who work in decision-making positions and this is shown evident by the pressure being put on the state medical programs where legalization has occurred. Legislators pretend to be looking out for “public safety” when the very public they work for has no safety contentions regarding cannabis. Legislators and regulators who’ve been approached by constituents with safety concerns regarding cannabis are victim of the same propaganda and thought control that been perpetrated in public schools and religious communities across the country.
We have to depend on our legislators to be prudent on this subject and stand-up for the reality of the situation – that there is no inherent danger in the consumption, cultivation, and processing of cannabis and it’s constituent substances. Children are not a victim in this fight and it’s not up to the state to make decisions for parents regarding cannabis use and children. Common household items such as salt and vinegar have more inherent danger to humans than cannabis and it will be a matter of time before our culture and our country recognizes cannabis for what it really is, a nutritional superfood, a natural medicine, a fuel, a fiber, and a teacher consciousness that is patiently waiting for the human species to recognize it and the wider world of entheogens.
Oregon patients are fighting for their existence and to maintain their rights within a pay-in program that is being pressured by business interests and prohibitionists – pay attention to this fight because it has ramifications for medical programs in all states. The folly of taxed and regulated medicine is getting a very direct spotlight in Oregon and our longstanding patients and patient advocates are some of the most well-spoken and prepared to bring valid points to the prohibitionists and moralists.
The truth is, we need state officials to regulate testing labs and to bring rational standards of procedure and results. Labs all across the state have been implicated in faulty protocols, faulty results, and industry cultivators feel extorted by state regulations forcing labs to be done on all material being brought to market – if there is no confidence in the labs for either potency or residual contaminants, what good is the requirement to have them?
Photography Credit to Sunnie Day Sanchez