Oregon’s Dispensary Program Not as Easy as Many Hoped for

The applications for the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries are printed and ready to go. The newly enacted law has set the tone for the state’s medical marijuana community to move forward with the legal dispensing of cannabis. Wait! What’s that on the horizon? It appears that not everyone is on the bandwagon for dispensaries and the bell is getting ready to sound for an all-out fight.

Local leaders are mixed when it comes to how the medical marijuana dispensaries will be set up in their towns. Some don’t mind and are ready to move forward, making the medical marijuana community a part of the landscape but there are others who want to keep marijuana dispensaries out of their communities. For instance Myrtle Creek locals have been very vocal about their feelings. Both the town’s police chief and the mayor oppose dispensaries within city limits. Medford’s City Council has made a rule change to say that business licenses could be revoked for violating the federal prohibition on the drug ensuring that dispensaries can’t open in their town. In their minds, while there is no way “to prevent the wholesale distribution of marijuana through dispensaries,” they are going to make it as difficult as possible.

Activists are appalled by the local efforts to ensure that the law is circumvented. Support for the law signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber in August has been vast but this isn’t stopping local officials from attempting to stop the actions clearly voted on by the people. At this point it appears that as far as dispensaries are concerned there will be some dry counties. Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says it is a plan akin to what happened with alcohol.”If they don’t want people to have retail access to marijuana or massive production of it, there is almost no doubt that no cities or towns can be forced to go that route,” said St. Pierre.

Up until now medical marijuana users has an easier time of it. Oregon law has permitted medical marijuana since 1998 but patients could only legally possess the drug if they found their own producer or grew it themselves. For many medical marijuana patients the black market became a viable option. Supporters of the new law said that it took care of that issue and that dispensaries would make the use of medical marijuana safer. The dispensaries would provide safe access create a system of reimbursement to the growers taking the criminals out of the loop.

Although the efforts for the new law was rejected in 2010, it passed this year and what happened next was a nine-month review process which seems to have created more questions than answers. There is a committee including law enforcement, marijuana advocates, botanists and legislators who have been pouring over the process possibilities but none of them could have foreseen the actions being attempted by local officials now. Currently cities and counties have two options when it comes to defeating the dispensaries. They can choose not to issue business licenses or they can fight it out in federal court.

There is some indication that fighting it in court may work. A 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2012 sympathized with patients, but sided with the federal government’s prohibition. At this point the Oregon Health Authority has final say over the dispensaries, however this may not mean much in places where the local officials are determined to stop them.

Original Article Source: http://marijuanaseedsblog.fancyweed.com/oregon-dispensary-program-news/

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