An Oregon medical marijuana garden
Medical marijuana advocates have turned in the first batch of signatures in a drive to place an initiative measure on Oregon’s November ballot to legalize cannabis dispensaries in the state.
Initiative 28 would create a system in which state-licensed cannabis growers would distribute their crops to dispensaries which would be regulated by the state health department, reports Brad Cain of The Associated Press.
Under I-28, medical marijuana patients with a doctor’s recommendation to use the herb could buy pot from the dispensaries, instead of having to find a personal grower/caretaker, figuring out how to grow pot themselves, or resorting to the black market.
|Voter Power’s John Sajo: “Oregon needs to create a regulated system so that every patient can access quality controlled medicine”|
John Sajo, head of the group that helped pass Oregon’s 1998 medical marijuana law, said backers of the new initiative on Monday turned in 61,000 petition signatures.
“When we drafted the original Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, we didn’t include provisions for dispensaries because federal law prohibited that,” Sajo said.
“But now that the Obama Administration has indicated that they will allow states to regulate medical marijuana, Oregon needs to create a regulated system so that every patient can access quality controlled medicine,” said Sajo, executive director of the Voter Power Foundation, which advocates for medical marijuana patients.
Current Oregon law allows medical marijuana patients to grow six mature cannabis plants, or to designate a grower to do it for them. It remains a felony for anyone to sell them marijuana.
Both dispensaries and producers would be subject to inspection and auditing by the health department under I-28. All dispensary employees would have to be 21 or older and pass criminal background checks. Dispensaries wouldn’t be allowed near schools or in residential areas, and would have to submit security plans along with their applications to the health department, reports Salem-News.com.
I-28 would be funded by license fees and taxes on dispensaries and producers. Voter Power Foundation estimates that I-28 would raise between $10 million and $40 million in the first year. Any revenue exceeding the costs of the program would be spent on other health programs.
Polling commissioned by Voter Power showed that 59 percent of Oregon voters support I-28, with 32 percent opposing it. A similar measure was approved last year by 58 percent of Maine voters.
Cannabis advocates have until July 2 to round up the rest of the signatures.
Backers need 82,769 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot.
For more information on I-28, visit VoterPower.org.