Oregon Legislature Introduces Two Pro-Cannabis Bills

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PHOTO: Oregon State Legislature

Although medical marijuana is legal in the state of Oregon, patients cannot obtain a medical marijuana recommendation unless they have one of a handful of legally qualifying conditions.

Oregon’s legislature has introduced Senate Bill 281 to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the qualifying conditions for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) and House Bill 3371, to end cannabis prohibition for adults. These bills come fast on the heels of Colorado and Washington’s successful legalization campaigns this past election.

Like many other states introducing similar legislation across the country, Oregon’s representatives have finally realized cannabis and industrial hemp can turn around our state’s economy. Like so many other states, Oregon’s economy is circling the drain. Hemp and cannabis can help.

SB 281 will add PTSD to the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Oregon.  The bill was introduced by Republican State Senator Brian Boquist after a failed attempt to get it added through the Oregon Health Authority, formerly the Department of Human Services, which oversees the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP).  This bill is making its way through the process quickly by legislative standards.

According to Keith Mansur, from the Oregon Cannabis Connection:

“…more than 25 people testified at the hearing. The committee is chaired by Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham), a retired public health nurse. Other senators were there, including Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg), an ardent opponent of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA), and Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland), who indicated he supported the measure and would vote to send it on in the process.”

Medical experts including Dr. Frank Lucido and Dr. Lester Grinspoon provided testimony to document how cannabis helps those who suffer with PTSD.  Michael Krawitz,  the Executive Director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access phoned in from New Jersey.  He was responsible for petitioning the Veterans Administration to allow veterans to use medical marijuana in states that have legalized its use.

 “…[PTSD diagnosis] creates a stigma that prevents people from seeking treatment,” Krawitz explained, “I’m hoping, and my colleagues are hoping, that your addition of post-traumatic stress to the Medical Marijuana Act out in Oregon will help reduce some of that stigma.”

The bill has cleared the Senate Health Committee, and is scheduled for the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is expected to move quickly with a “Do Pass” recommendation.  Oregon activists are working hard to encourage this bill along.  You can contact your Oregon representatives here.

The other good news is HB 3371, has also been introduced and, if passed, will end cannabis prohibition for adults in Oregon. It was introduced by the House Revenue Committee, which is pretty a pretty badass committee, politically speaking. They control the money, right? So, they know there is money to be made, and they know we need it. The activists who have worked together to put this legislation into play are a who’s who of Oregon cannabis activists that include Madeline Martinez, Anthony Johnson, John Sajo and more. The bill is scheduled for the House Judiciary Committee with a subsequent referral to the House Revenue Committee.

Anthony Taylor from Compassionate Oregon says:

“Two things that make things happen in Salem, cash and constituents. And phone calls from constituents go a long way… Remember, ten calls to ten people to ten people is like a thousand calls and at two minutes a call to a legislator’s office means two thousand minutes (30 hours) they spend on our issue.”

The legalization bill takes parts from Colorado and Washington’s successful new laws and the good parts of several versions of legalization language that has come and gone. Unlike Measure 80, which provided no limits on amounts an adult could possess or grow, HB 3371 sets the same limits that are already in place for our medical marijuana program. The bill makes no changes to the OMMA and keeps the OMMP in place.  It also keeps the laws that refers to minors and driving under the influence.

For those of us who don’t want to wait for another election to end prohibition, this is heartening news. The Oregon cannabis community notoriously comes together and rises to the occasion when called on to contact the legislature. Since it’s the session and NOT an election, it can take less of us to have a larger impact. This can still happen without waiting two or four more years.

“For those of us who don’t want to wait for another election to end prohibition, this is heartening news. The Oregon cannabis community notoriously comes together and rises to the occasion when called on to contact the legislature. Since it’s the session and NOT an election, it can take less of us to have a larger impact. This can still happen without waiting two or four more years.”

All it takes is you making a call that will take just a few minutes of your time. All it takes is you deciding to send an email. All it takes is you deciding to write a letter or a postcard. All it takes is you deciding to stop waiting around for something to happen and being the one to make it happen! No matter where you live, you can contact your state representatives and ask them to support the end of cannabis prohibition in your state.

On the national level, bills have been introduced to allow states to make their own decisions regarding cannabis, to end cannabis prohibition for adults, to allow medical cannabis in all states and to reintroduce industrial hemp into our economy. Visit www.norml.org to find out who you need to reach on these issues.  None of this takes a lot of time, and your voice speaks for so many more when you take the time to do it. Call ’em – here’s the number:  (202) 224-3121.  It’ll make you feel great!