Yes on Measure 33: Medical Marijuana from a Patient’s Perspective
By David Currie
I became a medical marijuana patient about five years ago, not long after the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) program started. John Sajo, director of the medical marijuana advocacy organization “Voter Power” explained how easy applying for the OMMA program was, and gave me the two simple forms I needed: one for the patient, and one for the physician.
Fortunately I had an enlightened doctor who is knowledgeable about alternative medicine, and he agreed to help me after I explained my situation. He already knew that I had problems with cachexia (no appetite) and chronic pain, both qualifying as “debilitating conditions” for the OMMA program. After I told him how much marijuana relieved my suffering from these conditions he was glad to recommend medical marijuana for me.
Chronic pain is the most common condition qualifying patients for the OMMA program. Like me, many OMMA patients have previously taken opioids for their chronic pain; and like me they discovered that, over time, the effectiveness of opioids to control pain gradually declines. Additionally, opioids can have some nasty side-effects. Medical marijuana answers these problems.
Becoming a medical marijuana patient allowed me to considerably reduce my dose of the opioid pain medication I take, and I feel better as a result. The arthritis I suffered from for many years has totally disappeared since I began using medical marijuana, and I no longer suffer from arthritic pain or stiffness.
Medical marijuana also lifts my depression and eases anxiety. It also seems to improve my libido and allows me to sleep better.
Dependence on drugs and alcohol is a severe problem for many and it certainly was for me during the years that I used them to self-medicate my depression and pain. Being hepatitis-C positive, it’s doubly important to abstain from using them. The good news is that, with medical marijuana I no longer crave drugs or alcohol.
Medical marijuana has improved the quality of my life dramatically this past five years. For me, cannabis (the Latin name for the marijuana plant) has been nothing short of a miracle!
In the six years since OMMA was passed in 1998, patients’ experiences have exposed some flaws in the original law. The OMMA2 initiative was designed to correct those flaws and to make the OMMA program more user-friendly. The OMMA2 petition, known as “Measure 33”, is on the November ballot.
The most obvious flaw with the current OMMA program is that it does not provide patients with an immediate legal source of medical marijuana, seeds, or starter plants. As a result, OMMA program growers currently have to use ingenuity to figure out how to get their gardens started. It takes up to six months to get a garden established and grow the plants to maturity, which leaves patients without a source of medicine during that period. Many patients are unable to grow their own medicine for various reasons, so they need to find a “caregiver grower” to supply them, which adds even more waiting time for medicine.
OMMA program patients need a reliable source of legal, good quality medicine at a reasonable price, and Measure 33 will meet that need through a system of dispensaries, which will function like medical marijuana pharmacies. The dispensaries will be run by non-profit organizations regulated by the Oregon Department of Health Services. The dispensaries will also supply OMMA growers with small starter plants they can continue growing themselves.
Measure 33 will add naturopaths and nurse practitioners as health professionals authorized to recommend medical marijuana, in addition to doctors. This will help patients find health care pro-fessionals to recommend medical marijuana when medically appro-priate. Additionally, the qualifying conditions will be expanded from the current narrow list to also include “any other medical condition for which...the medical use of marijuana would be beneficial”. Only a few conditions are now considered “qualifying conditions”. This will allow more patients who are legitimately helped by marijuana to qualify for the OMMA program.
Measure 33 will make it much easier for OMMA program growers to have enough medicine. Instead of only allowing 7 plants of which only 3 can be flowering, Measure 33 will increase the limit to 10, with no distinction between vegetating and flowering plants. Small plants under 1’ tall (which often don’t even survive) won’t be counted anymore. Measure 33 increases the amount of medicine patients can have at home from a few ounces to a pound, and those who register to grow only one outdoor crop a year will be allowed to have 6 pounds. Many patients have found it difficult to maintain an adequate supply of medicine while following the current OMMA restrictions, but the changes made in Measure 33 will make it much easier for patients to have enough medicine.
I sincerely hope Oregon voters will give medical marijuana patients their support by voting YES on Measure 33 in November. It will lead to a better life for many thousands of Oregonians who depend on medical marijuana for their health and well-being.
Dave Currie is a medical marijuana patient living in Portland, Oregon. For more information, see www.voterpower.org online, or call 503-224-3051.
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