PORTLAND, Ore. -- The state of Oregon should be responsible for growing medicinal marijuana, not patients or caregivers, according to the sponsors of a bill working its way through a legislative committee.
House Bill 3247, co-sponsored by two Republicans and two Democrats, would transfer to the state responsibilities of cultivating, harvesting and dispensing medical pot.
“Our current system isn’t working and we need to move quickly to protect patient safety,” said Rep. Don Maurer, R-Grants Pass.
HB 3247 would direct the state to establish and operate a marijuana production facility. The state would control potency and pharmacy distribution.
Pharmacies would in turn provide the prescribed doses to cardholders and primary caregivers.
And to pay for it all, the legislation would impose a $98-per-ounce pot tax.
“Oregonians have voted to authorize the use of medical marijuana, yet the Legislature has failed to provide adequate safeguards for citizens who have a legitimate need for it,” said Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie.
HB 3247 would also eliminate private medical marijuana grow sites.
Pot farmers have been investigated and arrested across the state for illegally selling marijuana to those without a medical prescription.
Medical marijuana cultivators have also been targeted by burglars, lawmakers said.
“If passed into law, this legislation will implement safe standards to dispense the drug through a tightly-controlled system,” said Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas.
Beaverton Democratic Rep. Chris Barker said the bill would bring pot off the streets and into a “safer and more secure environment.”
Opponents, however, say the state has no idea what it is getting into. They say medical marijuana takes a lot of time and manpower to harvest. The bill’s opponents do not think the state will be able to handle the number of patients who rely on the drug.
By Eric Adams
March 12, 2009