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Why We Need Measure 74

Many opponents of Measure 74 don’t believe that medical marijuana should be legal in Oregon at all. For instance, Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin sponsored a ballot measure to repeal Oregon’s medical marijuana law and replace it with a new government-run program to distribute pharmaceutical drugs at taxpayer expense.

Here are some of responses to the most common arguments against Measure 74:

• Marijuana is not a medicine. A group opposing Measure 74 calls medical marijuana “a cruel hoax.” In reality, new research findings point to marijuana’s value in treating pain and multiple sclerosis, in addition to its well-recognized value in preventing nausea and vomiting. That’s why more than 3,300 different Oregon doctors have recommended it as a medicine to their patients.

• This initiative legalizes marijuana. Experience in Oregon proves that allowing medical use of marijuana does not mean legalizing it for everyone. For 12 years the state has operated a rigorously controlled program by which patients obtain credentials from a state agency only after their physician has approved medical use of marijuana. Measure 74 simply provides those qualified patients a way to obtain medical marijuana. Meanwhile, non-medical users – probably 90% or more of all the people consuming marijuana in Oregon – remain subject to current law and must continue to obtain marijuana on the black market.

• The California experience shows it won’t work. There’s a world of difference between California’s medical marijuana law and Measure 74. Oregon’s existing law is much more limited as to which patients can qualify. California has no statewide regulation of supply at all, whereas Measure 74 would institute a statewide system. California’s law does not require providers to be nonprofits, but Measure 74 does. Oregon’s proposal avoids the mistakes of other states.

• Oregon can’t afford it. One anti-74 group says, “The State cannot afford costs for licensing and regulating” medical marijuana suppliers. This ignores the finding of five state officials whose official “Estimate of Financial Impact” for Measure 74 projects revenues of $3 million to $20 million, with costs between $400,000 and $600,000 per year. Moreover, Measure 74 expressly prohibits the use of any general fund revenues for the program.

• Regulating medical marijuana is unnecessary. Actually, opponents don’t say this in so many words, but it is effectively the position they take. Today, many patients must buy marijuana on the black market, enriching criminals. Growers of medical marijuana may mix with suppliers of non-medical marijuana. No one pays taxes. Measure 74 will bring necessary order and regulation.