Medical marijuana dispensary initiative headed for Oregon 2010 ballot

Backers of a new medical marijuana initiative announced that they have collected over 97,000 signatures on petitions to place Initiative 28 on the November 2010 ballot. The new initiative would add a regulated supply system of dispensaries and producers to Oregon’s current medical marijuana law. Backers need 82,769 valid signatures by July 2, 2010, to place the measure on the ballot. The campaign will continue to collect up to 50,000 additional signatures to compensate for any disqualified signatures.

“Oregon needs to create a regulated system so every patient can access quality controlled medicine,” said John Sajo, Executive Director of the Voter Power Foundation, a group which advocates for medical marijuana patients. “For many patients, producing their own medicine is physically challenging. This initiative gives the Oregon Health Department the authority to create a tightly regulated system.”

Initiative 28 will allow licensed nonprofit dispensaries to buy marijuana from licensed growers and sell it to registered patients. Both dispensaries and producers will be subject to inspection and auditing by the health department. All employees will have to be over 21 years old and pass criminal background checks. Dispensaries can’t be near schools or in residential areas and must submit security plans with their applications to DHS. Initiative 28 would also create a program administered by the health department to provide medicine to indigent patients.

The initiative also allows DHS to conduct research into the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana.

Only license fees and taxes on dispensaries and producers will fund the program. Estimates indicate that Initiative 28 will raise $10 million-$40 million the first year. Any revenue exceeding the administrative costs of the program can be spent by DHS on other health programs.

Polling by Voter Power showed that 59% of Oregon voters support the measure and 32% oppose it. Maine voters approved a similar measure on November 4, 2009, by a 58% to 42% margin.

The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program currently has over 30,000 patients that have been registered by over 3000 different Oregon physicians. Current law allows patients to grow up to 6 mature marijuana plants or to designate a grower to do it for them. It is still a felony for anyone to sell medical marijuana in Oregon.

At least 12 other states currently have medical marijuana laws, and five states, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Maine, have medical marijuana dispensary laws.

For more information or to arrange interviews contact:

John Sajo
Executive Director
Voter Power Foundation