Newsbrief: Drug Czar Attacks Oregon Medical Marijuana Initiative 9/17/04

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An Oregon medical marijuana initiative that would break new ground by creating state-regulated dispensaries to sell marijuana to patients is under attack from "drug czar" John Walters, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy ( Walters, who intervened famously against marijuana initiative efforts in 2002, most notably in Nevada, is back at it this year.

Ballot Measure 33, also known as the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act II (, would increase quantity limits for patients to one pound of usable marijuana and 10 marijuana plants at any given time and add naturopathic physicians and nurse practitioners to the definition of attending medical personnel who can qualify patients. The measure would require the state to provide medical marijuana to indigent patients for free.

Oregon voters passed a medical marijuana initiative in 1998, but proponents of OMMA2 argue that its weight limits were too low, leaving patients scrambling for an adequate supply of their medicine, and that the lack of a distribution system left patients at the mercy of the black market.

In an interview with the Associated Press September 10, Walters warned that passage of OMMA2 would make Oregon a "safe haven for drug trafficking" and would constitute a fraud upon the voters by sneaky legalizers. "People are being played for suckers," Walters said. "Their compassion for sick people is being used to do something that's destructive for the state."

Versions of the AP story ran in the Eugene Register-Guard and the Salem Statesman Journal, the main newspapers in the state's second and largest cities. For some reason unknown, it also appeared in the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.

The article also reported that the measure is opposed by the Oregon District Attorneys Association and the Oregon Medical Association, which paid for a page in the state voter's pamphlet to urge a "no" vote. "It is a thinly disguised effort to legalize the use of marijuana without any medically scientific justification," said the association.

Long-time marijuana activist John Sajo of Voter Power (, the group that sponsored the measure, scoffed at the critics. "Our opponents don't have any good arguments against medical marijuana, so they call this a legalization measure. That is nonsense," Sajo said.

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Issue #354, 9/17/04 Editorial: What Is It About Opium? | Canada Cannabis Cauldron Bubbling Again | DEA Brings Traveling "Drugs = Terror" Exhibit to NYC as City Commemorates 9/11 Anniversary | Drugs and Sports: A New Arena for Drug Reformers? | Newsbrief: In Gotham Shocker, New York Post Calls for Repeal of Rockefeller Laws | Newsbrief: Drug Reformer Challenger Defeats Hard-Line District Attorney in Albany, New York | Newsbrief: Yes, Four Ounces of Marijuana at Home is Legal, Says Alaska Supreme Court | Newsbrief: Drug Czar Attacks Oregon Medical Marijuana Initiative | Newsbrief: Oakland Poll Shows Strong Support for Legalization of Marijuana | Newsbrief: South Africa to Reject Marijuana Decriminalization | Newsbrief: More Drug Executions in Iran, Saudi Arabia | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Mexico Shuts Down Three "Youth Treatment" Centers, Deports Kids Back to US | The Reformer's Calendar

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