By Steve Elliott
The Oregon House on Monday passed a bill to license and regulate the nearly 200 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the state.
House Bill 3460 requires the Oregon Health Authority to set up a licensing system under the state's Medical Marijuana Act.
"I urge the Oregon Senate to pass HB 3460 so patients can have safe, over-the-counter, regulated access to medical marijuana in a open, legal retail environment, said Paul Stanford, president of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) and director of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), which owns Hemp News.
"We shouldn't be pushing people with serious illnesses into the black market for relief," Stanford said. "HB 3460, when implemented, will protect patients, growers and retail establishments from wrongful arrest and potential incarceration."
“HB 3460 is a moderate bill that recognizes that some 200 dispensaries are operating all over Oregon today, patients are visiting them regularly and it is time to bring these facilities under the medical marijuana program,” said Geoff Sugerman, director of Oregonians for Medical Rights, the group sponsoring the legislation. "The regulations will provide a new level of safety and access to patients while giving dispensaries and local communities clear direction on how these should be operated."
By JONATHAN J. COOPER, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — Of the thousands of laws that Oregon's attorney general enforces or interprets, the one allowing medical marijuana has lit up the campaign for that office more than any other.
In a Democratic primary where the candidates agree on many things, their differences over marijuana stand out.
It's anyone's guess whether the pot vote will be enough to tip the scales. But no Republicans are seeking the job, so Democrats alone will choose the state's top lawyer in the May 15 primary.
Former federal prosecutor Dwight Holton has called Oregon's marijuana law a "train wreck," and he was the U.S. Attorney for Oregon when federal agents raided marijuana farms that were legal under state law.
His rival, retired Court of Appeals judge Ellen Rosenblum, has staked out a mellower view, saying she'll make marijuana enforcement a low priority.
She's hammered Holton over the issue with the help of a political action committee that wants to legalize the drug.
"Mr. Holton is out of step with his own party on this issue," said Bob Wolfe, director of Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement. "He's trying to climb the career ladder on the backs of medical marijuana patients, and I don't find that acceptable."
Wolfe's committee was fined last week for allegedly violating initiative laws while gathering signatures for a ballot measure to legalize marijuana. He disputes the allegation.
By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent
As Oregon moves closer toward marijuana legalization in November with the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012 (OCTA 2012) and the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative 2012 (OMPI 2012) petition drives, the race for Oregon Attorney General on May 15th between Appeals Court Judge Ellen Rosenblum and former acting U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton will be crucial to the implementation of the cannabis legalization initiatives.
Earlier this month, in a debate at the Eugene City Club, Rosenblum said she supported the state’s current medical marijuana law as one that "provides vulnerable citizens with the medicine they needed to cope with their diagnoses."
On the other hand, Holton said the law is actually "a train wreck, putting marijuana in the hands of people, kids, who are not using it for pain management purposes. Of 50,000 card holders, 30,000 got them from 10 clinics. We’ve got a broken system."