What I Learned About Medical Marijuana

Filed under:Not Cool,Politics,Wacky Oregon — posted by Anwyn on October 26, 2007 @ 11:10 am

Or, This is My Legislature on Drugs.

This fall I’ve been attending Citizens’ Academy, the class put on by the police to show us how they do things. It’s highly informative and entertaining. Last night we got an introduction to narcotics and some of the issues surrounding them. While it was all interesting, the most eye-opening part was not about meth or any other of the big nasties, but about good ol’ marijuana. Oregon has a medical marijuana program in place, voted in by the good ol’ citizens of the state in 1998. The loopholes in this law are big enough to drive army trucks through.

Want to know what it takes to get a medical marijuana card? It takes, basically, going to the right doctor and telling him/her you have a lot of chronic pain with no specific findable cause. Look at these statistics the police showed us. The numbers aren’t current-year but are illuminating as to the overall program.

Patient Condition Resulting in MM Card ……………………………………. # of Patients

HIV/AIDS ……………………………………………………………………….. 289
Cancer ………………………………………………………………………….. 381
Nausea ………………………………………………………………………….. 2637
Seizures …………………………………………………………………………. 427
Pain ……………………………………………………………………………… 12,000 (approx.)
Glaucoma ……………………………………………………………………….. 237
Muscle spasms …………………………………………………………………. 2796

One of these things is not like the others. Actually, about three of them are not like the others. The numbers are overwhelmingly disproportionate to unspecific conditions like “pain,” “muscle spasms,” and “nausea.”

There are three classifications of people in the medical marijuana program: Patients, caregivers, and growers. A patient can be in possession of up to 24 growing plants–six mature, 18 immature, and 1.5 pounds of processed marijuana at any given time. Do you know how much weed 1.5 pounds is? Because I didn’t. Apparently if you smoke two joints per day for a year, you might use up a pound. So a patient can possess a cache of MJ big enough to last a regular recreational user at least a year at any one time.

It gets better. Growers are permitted to grow plants for up to four patients at once, meaning they can be in legal possession of up to 96 plants and/or six pounds of processed stash at any given time. Caregivers, who, as far as I can tell, do not have to be medical personnel in any form (though a doctor does have to sign off on the initial card application), can “treat” unlimited patients, which in theory means they can be in possession of an unlimited amount of weed at any given time. And people can hold dual citizenship, so to speak, as both growers and caregivers.

The patients are not charged for the marijuana. Which is to say, it is illegal for the grower to bill the patient for the substance, because that would then actually be drug trafficking of an FDA Schedule 1 drug (Schedule 1 substances officially have “no medicinal value.”) The grower can ask the patient to “reimburse” his expenses–and growing weed indoors is phenomally expensive, due to the special lights and rivers of electricity it requires. Let me ask you: Outside this “reimbursement,” what possible incentive would anybody have to grow free marijuana for patients? None at all. Unless he thought he could get a little action on the side. That’s where the army truck loophole comes in. Street price of a pound of marijuana? According to our instructing officers, about $3,000.

Somebody in our class wanted to know how this law squares with applicable federal laws applying to controlled subustances. The answer is “it doesn’t.”

“The (state) Act neither protects marijuana plants from seizure nor individuals from prosecution if the federal government chooses to take action against patients or caregivers under the federal Controlled Substances Act.”

The whole thing strikes me as covert legalization right under the nose of the federal governent, which has far more pressing concerns even in the drug department–such as huge outdoor grows and the flow of drugs over both borders–to bother with home-grown guys operating under the scant legal cover of the Oregon law.

I don’t even have to take a position on the premise of the law to know that the law itself, as written, is moronic BS. If somebody calls the county’s drug-enforcement team and tells them they think somebody in their neighborhood is growing Mary Jane because they smell it or something like that, the police can’t call the MM program and find out if there is a legal grow in that area. If they have a specific address they can find out whether that house is registered as a grow site or not, but even if they end up with a warrant to check out a legal grow site and find the law being broken, they can only seize the number of plants by which the grower is over the limit. Our detective told us, “We’re nice! We even let them pick the plants they want to keep!” And once the bust is made, the public cannot be told that this was a “legal” grower patently abusing the law the voters granted him–privacy rules apply.

Message to Salem: Quit smoking the stuff and start regulating it. Get Oregon’s reps and senators to introduce a federal legalization bill. Stop subverting federal law.


  1. Well, as one who get the privilege of peeing in a bottle on a routine basis (military), I stay well clear of the stuff. Maybe when I retire I’ll move to Oregon a give it a try! Not. Like Oregon, but not the dope. I will say that I have seen first hand a case where it did do a lot of good though. Had a younger sister who broke her neck in a car crash. C1 break (first vertebra below the skull) which left her permanently paralyzed from the neck down. After getting out of the hospital she suffered terribly from nausea and threw up nearly everything she ate. Needless to say she became very weak and bone thin, dropped down to 80+ lbs (very thin for a girl 5’10). We all thought she was going to die of starvation to be honest. After several tries at several meds that didn’t work, the DOCTOR, one day asked if we’d tried marijuana? Thought my Mom was gonna flip out. Well after thinking it over, Mom actually went out bought some, and it worked like a champ. My sister started eating w/o puking, and gained all here weight back. As a military guy I certainly didn’t participate in any of this, and was dead set against it at first, but I turned a blind eye. Over time I came to accept it as none of us could argue with the results. Anyhow, not saying I’d support legalizing MJ, but I would support using it in some very limited cases. Oregon’s MM laws are not what I’d have in mind however, too liberal, and they should be synched up with Fed law.

    My sister passed on btw, she lasted about 15 years, but that sever of an injury will eventually kill you for a host of reasons. To be fair, had I been in her shoes (or more accurately, wheel chair), I probably would’ve taken up dope smoking as well. Wasn’t like she had a “full” life ahead of her, and what little she had sucked pretty bad. No happy ending I’m afraid.


    Comment by Tater — October 26, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

  2. Tater, I’m sorry to hear about your sister. Thank you for sharing that story–I’ve never known enough about the issue to know where exactly I would come down on the medicinal question in general.

    Comment by Anwyn — October 26, 2007 @ 12:53 pm

  3. I am sorry to hear about your sister Tater. But through tragidies God creates good things. He opened your eyes to the fact that cannabis is a very positve medicine for certain problems. I myself suffer from 2 Diabetic Neuropathic diseases that both effect my digestive system. I have GERDS & GastroParesis. Paresis means paralyzed, gastro being stomach in greek. So the parstolsis action of my stomach muscles is paralyzed and leaves me in a 24/7 state of nausea that leads to violent vomiting sessions that last from 12-24 hours with a 48 hour recuperation time. With always feeling like I was going to throw up I decided to try marijuana for nausea and vomiting control. Marijuana is the most effective form of nausea control known to man with the widest safety margin known to man. All other anti nausea pills after 6 months of daily use have one bad side effect and that is NAUSEA. I have tried all that were appropriate for my illness and since marijuana is illegal in the state I live in my doctor put me on the highest dose of Marinol that I could get. That turned out to be only the 2.5 mg pill, 60 for a month, any higher dosage or more than 60 pills a month are financially prohibitive for the insurance companies. So I took 2 pills a day equaling 5 mg’s a day of Marinol. That low dose is not effective I told my doctor and he said he didn’t think it would be. Now I can get the pills but it would cost me $1200 a month whereas the plant itself, which is much more effective than Marinol, is only $250 for a month’s supply, and I must have this in order to eliminate and control my nausea. As it is I am restricted to a liquid diet in order to get whole food nutrition for my choice of safe foods is very limited. I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone. Believe me your sister is in a much better place, marijuana or not. I am glad that she was able to find some relief however. I also can testify that long term use of marijuana is not harmful. I smoked marijuana for 27 years and then quit for 10 years without any withdrawal effects. It didn’t even bother my sleep cycle when I quit smoking marijuana after 27 years of use. Now that’s a very safe drug. Imagine what Alcohol and Tobbacco would do to your body after 27 years of use. It could be deadly, but not so with marijuana, it is the safest recreational drug besides being such a medically theraputic plant. When I was in my 10 year sobriety I contracted Adult Type 2 Diabetis resulting in 2 neuropathic diseases that effect my digestive system, GERDS and GastroParesis, so it wasn’t the marijuana that did it. I worked as a Recording Engineer in New York City for the Ad Agencies where you had to be fast and “on the ball” to please these clients because they are nervous and also being charged a minimum of $200 an hour to work with me and I had enough of a clientele that I received a $20,000 bonus a year, marijuana was not a problem there, in fact considering cocaine and heroin were running rampant in the recording industry in the 80’s, I was considered square since I would only smoke weed. So what you have learned about marijuana is probably only what the government has told you since I get the impression you would never use the stuff personnally. Our government had a “Fear and Smear Campaign” on marijuana started around 1937 with Harry Anslinger and the newly formed DEA. If you want to read very informative information on how marijuana became illegal check out http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/mj_outlawed.htm, it tells an un-biased history of how marijuana became illegal in the USA. In short it was first based on prejudice against the mexicans then Anslinger with the Hearst Corp. spread lies upon lies based on prejudice, violence, and uncontrollable behavior. That is a short description the Government told the American people what would happen to them if they smoked marijuana. So unfortunately millions of people suffer unnecessarily from not having legal access to marijuana for medical reasons or it being illegal in there state. Truthfully, our nation’s health would be better off if everyone who drinks alcohol or smokes cigarettes or does any other drug would be able to quit useing them and smoke marijuana only. After all did your sister exhibit violent uncontrollable behavior under the influence of marijuana, of course not. The sooner our country makes marijuana legal the better for until then they are empowering the black market and losing billions of tax dollars and spending $400 Billion dollars a year just on marijuana prohibition, another site you can check is http://www.leap.com, stands for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and shows how prohibition just does not work in society. We have pretty stiff penalties for a soft drug that was made illegal on prejudicial terms with no scientific or medical evidence involved. The prejudice was focused against the Mexicans and the blacks. They even went so far as to say,” If a Mexican or black man smokes marijuana they will think they are as good as the white man.” Now are you going to accept a law that has racial prejedice as its main reasoning for illegalization, I sure as hell won’t. Read the story and you will see I am telling the truth. Peace~:)

    Comment by Jeff — October 26, 2007 @ 3:37 pm

  4. Jeff…dear God, man, use paragraphs. :S

    I’m very much on the fence with medical marijuana. Part of that is that I work for the same people that issue the cards saying it’s okay to grow pot, part of it is that I have two grandparents whose slide into the depths of Alzheimers has been arrested by marijuana use, and part of it is that like every other person in the USA that’s come to adulthood in the last 30 years, I was indoctrinated at a young age to think that marijuana = bad.

    A big part of the rationale I was always presented with for why marijuana is bad is that it’s a “gateway” drug. I don’t believe that’s necessarily true, any more than use of alcohol inevitably leads to alcoholism, divorce, domestic violence, or into the things that are truly bad like methamphetamine or heroin. Pot has bad effects, yes, but it isn’t a chemical concoction dreamed up by somebody, and so it does have some mitigating “good” things about it.

    I hasten to add that the area of Oregon I grew up in was and is one of the largest growing areas on the West Coast. My dad never took us on hikes anywhere local out in the woods without taking a sidearm along, and I understood at a young age that if he said we weren’t going any further into one area, there was a good reason and disobeying him in any way would lead to dire consequences, regardless of outcome. Pot was a huge problem there – the growers would booby-trap their plantations, and there were cops and forest workers that died all the time. It was bad.

    Anyway – I see some benefit to marijuana as a medical resource, but I’m not naive enough to think that it has no potential for abuse.

    Comment by wg — October 26, 2007 @ 4:09 pm

  5. wg, Alzheimer’s was on the list but I didn’t write that down–I wish now I had written them all down but there was a lot of stuff to take notes on. I would be interested in hearing more about the beneficial effects you’ve seen in your grandparents. And the officers also talked about the booby-trapped grows you mention. We saw pictures–outdoors these things are no longer plants but almost trees–six feet high and spreading. The outdoor growers have become bolder lately, our detectives told us–now they mostly try to gun down the officers rather than running as they used to.

    Comment by Anwyn — October 26, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  6. Man, all those words in the long comments above are _totally_ killing my buzz.

    Don’t harsh the thread, man.

    Anwyn, twist up another fattie and don’t bogart it this time 9)

    Comment by docweasel — October 26, 2007 @ 8:23 pm

  7. Anwyn, my grandmother has been slowly sinking into the horrible never-never land of Alzheimers for about ten years now. She managed, solely by force of will I think, to fight it off until her 90th birthday, as a lot of older people will do when faced with something “important” to reach. After her 90th birthday, it wasn’t six months before she had faded so far that they were talking about moving her to an assisted living facility that could keep a sharp eye on her.

    Grandma has always been very fit – she wasn’t home when we called her on her 75th birthday because she’d decided to learn downhill skiing, for example. Grandpa is much less active, but that’s just kind of how he is. He had a very bad stroke about two years ago that robbed him of a lot of his vitality and, well, his attitude. To borrow a phrase from somebody, that man was pure fuckery….he has always been a button-pusher, very good at just pissing people off.

    Like a lot of people, both of them were adamantly against smoking pot, and I’m sure that it was extra difficult to deal with, knowing that that side of my family is entirely deeply 7th Day Adventist. My uncle managed to convince them that taking concentrated THC in pill form wasn’t the same thing, and so now they mix it in with their “special” ice cream and sit down for a bowl of it together about twice a week.

    The results have been nothing short of miraculous, to be honest. Grandma remembers my name, for one thing, and that’s no small matter considering that she’s called me by my uncle’s name for nearly all of my life and due to a falling out in the family, I’ve seen her maybe four times in the last fifteen years. Her mind has gotten back a lot of its sharpness, and she’s as spry as she ever was – she goes on long walks again and is no longer afraid of forgetting where she is, where she was going, or how to get back. Grandpa has, well, mellowed I guess is the best way to put it. I can be in the same room with the guy for longer than an hour now and not want to throttle him – he doesn’t make a lot of the very nasty, biting, hurtful remarks he used to and is generally easier to get along with for everybody.

    You were asking about my memories of growing up in southern Oregon and the big growing operations there… southwestern Oregon is very mountainous, and marijuana grows well on south-facing hillsides. My dad just retired a couple of years ago from working with the forestry industry – when it’s your job to go around and inspect legitimate logging operations and actually explore what they’re doing, the roads they’re constructing, ensure the health of streambeds and appropriate forest boundaries, you get a sort of sense of things being not quite right. He located a lot of concealed growing operations in the area we lived in, and since he was a volunteer deputy for the Sheriff’s Department, was an invaluable resource for them to find these things and shut them down. I remember him coming back one time and just kind of walking in, sitting down, and looking at my sister and I playing, and not saying anything. It wasn’t until several years later that he told me that he had come very close that day to getting his head taken off by a tripwire hooked to a sawed-off 12 gauge shotgun booby trap.

    I know that they had people from the FBI and the DEA out in our little town a lot in the mid 80’s, particularly after the Reagan administration annouced their “war on drugs”. There were a couple of incidents that I wonder about now, things like seeing National Guard guys coming along for the firepower. I wonder how they got around the laws on posse comitatus, not that I mind particularly having extra bodies with M16’s along. lol

    Comment by wg — October 26, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

  8. Somebody in the class mentioned Roseburg as a former hotbed for that activity. Lots of nice south-facing hillsides.

    Comment by Anwyn — October 26, 2007 @ 9:58 pm

  9. Marijuana is credited with pulling the economy of Jackson County out of the post-timber slump of the 70’s with good reason. :)

    Comment by wg — October 26, 2007 @ 10:20 pm

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