Oregon Senate Bill 844 Adds New Condition to OMMP
Compassionate Oregon was disappointed this session because so much of the legislation and debate around Cannabis was business-centric and many of the ideas we proposed for patients in Compassionate Oregon’s House Bill 2821 were left on the cutting room floor. This was due in part to many legislators and state agencies including the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), waiting to see if the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) would even survive the session. It was also the result of the complex nature of the Program and a basic lack of understanding of the Program by anyone in the Legislature other than a select few.
The Committee for Implementing Measure 91 came into session believing the best place to start after their informational hearings, was to establish controls over the amount of marijuana being produced by the medical marijuana growers (and by extension responsible for all the cannabis being exported out of state).
This was misguided and unfortunately resulted in limiting the number of patients that could be grown for at any given address, capping the number of plants per address and changing requirements for growing for other patients. (Two years residency and 21 years of age). The Committee also established reporting requirements for anyone growing at an address with more than 12 plants and those wishing to sell their excess to dispensaries or retail outlets.
The legislature did, however, get rid of the 12″ rule and redefined the term “immature plants” and removing limits for them. The Committee also changed the amount a medical grower could possess increasing it from the current amount of 24 ounces shared between the patient, caregiver and grower to a limit of 12 pounds per plant for outdoor and 6 pounds per plant for indoor grows.
We gained some ground with transplant language in Senate Bill 844 ending transplant patients from being denied organs or even placed on a recipient list because they use cannabis.(Thanks to Don Morse and Nikki Terzieff for their help and persistence)
Our efforts to end policies allowing physicians to refuse to prescribe medications or treatment options based solely on a patient also using cannabis to mitigate symptoms were unsuccessful. It still remains our top priority and we are hopeful we will accomplish this goal in the 2017 session. (2016 is very short and will probably not allow for a change of this importance but we will be introducing a new patient rights/clinic bill anyway with the hope of laying the groundwork for accomplishing our 2017 goals).
We did not get lifetime cards for lifetime conditions, or free hospice cards, or change in the language for qualifying for a medical marijuana card based on the doctor and patient agreeing it would help but, with the help of Rep. Peter Buckley’s office, we did get “degenerative or pervasive neurological condition,” added to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program’s (OMMP) list of qualifying conditions.
This addition is huge and will enable patients previously qualifying for an OMMP card based on a symptom of a condition (severe pain) to now qualify for their condition instead of the symptom. This will allow patients to now qualify for MS, ALS, Autism, Fibromyalgia, Lupis and Lyme’s Disease as will as neuropathy pain from diabetes.
It will also allow medical marijuana clinics to begin directing their patients in re-classifying their conditions by listing the condition rather than a symptom. This will reduce the number of severe pain patients the registry is now top heavy with and reduce the concerns often raised by opponents with respect to this large number.
We also pushed back on a bill that would have altered the way medical marijuana clinic physicians dealt with the “over 450 patient” load. Our input resulted in the bill dying in committee with only a brief hearing. We would like to thank Rep. Mitch Greenlick, (D, Dist. 33) for holding a hearing on this bill. Due to floor debate on the House keeping all members on the floor and rescheduling most hearings, he sat in as the only member to attend. It was a courtesy and we do appreciate it and the opportunity to have our testimony entered into the record.
A bill to further restrict cannabis use by daycare providers including prohibiting any cardholder to even work at a daycare center, also died in committee as did other bills including one requiring a one mile separation for dispensaries from schools.
We also want to thank Rep. Caddy McKeown (D, Dist. 9) for introducing our bill to allow diversion patients to use medical cannabis during their diversion. This bill never got a hearing and efforts to get its language inserted into other bills were unsuccessful. Language that would have allowed probationers to use medical cannabis also failed to be adopted. These issue are counter-intuitive and are not easily adopted.
Legislation was also passed that will establish a Research Certificate Program designed to allow research that will be implemented under the combined efforts of OHA, OLCC and Dept. of Ag. Language making Veterans with PTSD eligible for a discounted price of $20 for their cards was also adopted in HB 3400.
All in all we did have some success for patients but we have a lot of work ahead of us if we are to reach our goal of recognition of Cannabis by mainstream Oregon health care system. In the end we hope to have health care coverage extended to cannabis patients to cover the costs for clinic visits and medications being paid for by insurance and other coverage plans and policies.
Thanks to everyone that helped in our efforts and contributed to our Committee. Should you have any questions please feel free to contact anyone of us at the addresses listed on our Contact Us page. We are still working to make it a better world for patients so please, also visit our Donation page and help us help you.
Please watch for our upcoming analysis of the new laws affecting patients in other ways such as what growers must get ready for and how that will affect patients.