For immediate release
May 18, 2010
New initiative to regulate medical marijuana will turn in signatures
Thursday May 20 to Oregon Secretary of State
Press Conference at State Capitol
Backers of I 28 will hold a press conference in the media room of the State Capitol at 11:00 am Thursday, May 20 before chief petitioners turn the signatures in to the Secretary of State's office at 11:30 am.
Sponsors of a new medical marijuana initiative announced today that they have collected over 110,000 signatures on petitions to place Initiative #28 on the November 2010 ballot. The new initiative would dd a regulated supply system of dispensaries and producers to the current medical marijuana law which requires patients to produce their own medicine.
The Coalition for Patients' Rights 2010 needs to turn in 82,769 valid signatures by July 2, 2010, to place the measure on the November ballot.
Oregon election law requires the Secretary of State to immediately verify initiative petition signatures that are turned in by the "early turn-in" deadline on May 21. The Elections Division will determine how many are valid.
Jim Klahr, Co-Chief Petitioner and CEO of Oregon Green Free, a 501c3 federal nonprofit established to assist those using the Oregon medical Marijuana Program says, "We support I-28 fully because it does fix most the flaws that have plagued the system since the beginning."
The Oregon Regulated Medical Marijuana Supply System, which I 28 creates, will be funded by license fees and taxes on dispensaries and producers.
The medical marijuana program is self funding and has already contributed over $1 million to the general fund. Voter Power Foundation estimates that I 28 will raise $10 million-$40 million the first year. Any revenue exceeding the costs to administer the program can be spent by DHS on other health programs.
Polling commissioned by Voter Power showed that 59% of Oregon voters support the measure .
"We think we are pretty close to having enough valid signatures." said John Sajo, Director of Voter Power, the group organizing the petition drive.
Petitioners will continue to collect signatures on I 28 until the July 2 deadline, unless the initiative already has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
"When we drafted the original Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, we didn't include provisions for dispensaries because federal law prohibited that. 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 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.
Current law requires patients to grow 6 mature marijuana plants or to designate a grower to do it for them. Producing their own medicine is a big headache for many patients, but it remains a felony for anyone to sell them marijuana.
I 28 will allow licensed nonprofit dispensaries to sell medical marijuana to registered patients. Licensed producers will grow the marijuana and sell it to dispensaries. 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.
"This initiative gives the Health Department the authority to create a tightly regulated system that will provide access to patients while minimizing abuse."
I 28 also creates a program administered by the health department which will provide medicine to indigent patients.
The initiative also allows DHS to conduct research into the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana. Backers foresee a process where DHS does the research necessary to establish quality control standards for medical marijuana. "Quality control standards will result in medicine labeled with the strength of the active ingredients and be certified to be free of contaminants. This will allow doctors to advise patients about proper dosage." said Sajo." Research will also indicate how marijuana can be best used for various medical conditions."
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program currently has over 36,000 patients that have been registered by over 3200 different Oregon physicians.
Fourteen states have medical marijuana laws. California, Colorado, New Mexico, Rhode Island, New Jersey , Maine, and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws that allow dispensaries. Arizona will have a dispensary initiative on the 2010 ballot.
I 28 does not change which medical conditions qualify a patient under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.
For more information or to arrange interviews contact:
John Sajo, Executive Director, Voter Power Foundation email@example.com 541-530-2221
Jim Klahr, Chief Petitioner Initiative 28 and CEO of Oregon Green Free 503-505-6218 or 503-201-9756
Alice Ivany, Chief Petitioner Initiative 28 and President of Board of Oregon Green Free
Anthony Johnson, Chief Petitioner Initiative 28 and Board Member of Oregon Green Free 503-752-3966