Don’t Make a Bad Marijuana Law Worse

—– Original Message —–
From: "Steve Elliott" <>
To: "Richard Lake" <>; <>
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2008 3:46 PM
Subject: Re: [mmjlist] US OR: Editorial: Don’t Make a Bad Marijuana Law

>I doubt they’ll print it, since I’m an out-of-stater, but the editorial
> below galvanized me to send the following letter to the editor of the
> Oregonian in Portland:
> Dear Editor,
> I was quite disappointed to learn that old-style "Reefer Madness"
> apparently
> lives on your editorial page ("Don’t Make A Bad Marijuana Law Worse," Feb.
> 4).
> The author of this misguided editorial obviously harbors some enormous
> moral
> judgments about marijuana and about those who legally use it as medicine,
> as
> if they should somehow feel guilty about the relief that is afforded them
> through using this herb.
> As a legal medical marijuana patient myself, I take exception to the
> moralistic, judgmental, and willfully ignorant tone of the editorial.
> The piece asserts that "statistics strongly suggest" that more Oregonians
> use marijuana as a result of Medical Marijuana Act which the voters passed
> 10 years ago, when in fact statistics suggest no such thing.
> When the law passed in 1998, adult Oregonians ALREADY used marijuana at a
> rate 50 percent higher than the national rate. I don’t think that would
> come
> as shocking or remarkable news to anyone, except perhaps the author of the
> editorial.
> The difference is, now those who can show a medical need for cannabis —
> and
> who have a physician’s recommendation to use pot to alleviate their
> symptoms
> — no longer have to fear being arrested and jailed for treating
> themselves
> with the medicine which they’ve learned works best.
> Among the facts conveniently omitted from the editorial is that the urine
> testing of which the author is apparently so fond means nothing when it
> comes to measuring actual impairment. Marijuana can be detected in the
> urine
> for 30-45 days after last ingestion — so the broad net of urine testing
> captures those who only use medically, never at the workplace, with the
> result that they are discriminated against even through they’ve not broken
> the law.
> I can’t understand why you’d look nostalgically back at the bad old days
> when those who need medical marijuana were jailed and deemed unemployable.
> Medical marijuana users deserve discrimination no more than those who use
> any other legal medicine.
> Steve Elliott
> Kingston, Washington
> —
>> From: Richard Lake <>
>> Date: Mon, 04 Feb 2008 15:00:22 -0500
>> To: <>
>> Subject: [mmjlist] US OR: Editorial: Don’t Make a Bad Marijuana Law Worse
>> Newshawk: Please Write a LTE
>> Pubdate: Mon, 4 Feb 2008
>> Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
>> Webpage:
>> Copyright: 2008 The Oregonian
>> Contact:
>> Website:
>> Details:
>> Bookmark: (Opinion)
>> Bookmark: (Marijuana – Medicinal)
>> Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
>> Ten years ago, when Oregon voters approved the state’s landmark
>> Medical Marijuana Act, they did so with assurances that only a
>> handful of very ill people needed it — perhaps 500 a year,
>> supporters said at the time.
>> That turned out to be a false promise, as critics warned at the time.
>> They appear to have correctly predicted that the new law would open
>> the door for wider use of pot in Oregon by creating new legal
>> defenses for the possession, use, cultivation and delivery of marijuana.
>> Statistics strongly suggest this. Today, nearly 16,000 Oregonians
>> hold patient cards entitling them to use marijuana. Nearly 8,000 hold
>> "caregiver cards" so they can possess it, and about 4,000 have
>> permits to grow the plant, resulting in at least 19 tons of marijuana
>> growing legally at any given time.
>> Not surprisingly, the rate of marijuana use by adult Oregonians is 50
>> percent higher than the national rate. Voters in 1998 may have
>> thought they were showing compassion for a small number of terminally
>> ill cancer patients who needed marijuana to alleviate their symptoms,
>> but the law is clearly being abused in a big way.
>> This abuse is showing up in the workplace, where the Oregon drug test
>> failure rate is 50 percent higher than the national rate. And the
>> most prevalent reason for testing failure? Marijuana use — 71
>> percent of all positive tests in Oregon, compared with 53 percent
>> nationally.
>> The 2007 Legislature had a chance to address the workplace issue but
>> fell short. A bill to make it easier for Oregon employers to enforce
>> drug-free workplace policies, even against employees with valid
>> medical marijuana cards, passed in the Senate but faltered in the House.
>> That was a sensible bill and deserves a second chance in the special
>> session that begins today. Instead, however, the House Business and
>> Labor Committee has put forth a much narrower bill that would give
>> employers the option to regulate medical pot users in only the most
>> dangerous of jobs.
>> This is a bad bill that will make Oregon’s flawed law worse, not
>> better. By giving employers discretion on accommodating medical
>> marijuana use only by workers doing "hazardous duties," the bill
>> would create a huge uncovered class of workers who would win the
>> implicit right to accommodation at work — something the original act
>> explicitly did not grant.
>> In other words, this new bill is a Trojan horse. It would exempt such
>> dangerous jobs as mining, logging and blasting, while creating the
>> right to special accommodation for everyone else who might have
>> marijuana cards, including surgeons, bus drivers, nannies and
>> editorial writers.
>> Legislators should spike this bill. Instead, they should pass Senate
>> Bill 465, clarifying the right of employers to enforce drug-free
>> workplace policies.
>> And while they’re at it, they should fund a Justice Department study
>> of what increasingly appears to be widespread abuse of a
>> well-intentioned medical marijuana law gone bad.
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