Oregon – August 21, 2010 — The Citizens Initiative Review is an experimental new addition to Oregon’s initiative process. Twenty four randomly selected voters are paid to study ballot measures and write reviews published prominently in the Voters Pamphlet. The panel of everyday people heard from Pro and Con advocates and background experts. On Friday, August 20, after a full week of intense discussion and deliberation, the panel voted 13-11 to support Measure 74.
The measure will ultimately be decided by Oregon voters at the November 2 general election. The proposed law would create a regulated supply system for medical marijuana. The current law requires patients to produce their own medicine.
Advocates for Measure 74 presented their case with moving testimony from patients, and extensive scientific information. They described a future where patients could obtain quality controlled, dosage labeled products derived from marijuana
The opposition to Measure 74 was led by Sheriff Tom Bergin and District Attorney Josh Marquis from Clatsop County. Bergin complained that most patients were not legitimate and that the measure was vague. Marquis questioned the ability of the Oregon Health Authority to regulate the program. The opponents attacked the Measure for leaving details to be determined by OHA through the administrative rule process.
Advocates responded by comparing Measure 74 to Initiative 32, an initiative filed by Sheriff Bergin that would repeal the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act and replace it with a program providing free Marinol to Oregon patients at taxpayer’s expense. “They criticize our proposal because it relies on the Oregon health Authority to make final rules, but then they do the exact same thing in their proposal,” said John Sajo, Director of Voter Power, who lead the Pro advocate team.
“This was a choice between two, visions for the future” said Sajo. “We have a proposal that will get medicine safely to patients and raise revenue in the process. Our opponents have a proposal that will put patients in jail and cost millions.”
“We always felt that if voters had the time to understand Measure 74, they would approve of dispensaries where patients can obtain medical marijuana,” said Alice Ivany, an amputee who qualifies for the program because of severe pain. Ivany described how she was unable to find any medical marijuana for over a year after she qualified. “Requiring patients to produce their own medicine just doesn’t work.”
More information about the process and complete archives of the event are available at www.healthydemocracyoregon.com.