Although the State of Oregon was one of the first in the nation to allow medicinal use of cannabis in 1998, voters in that state narrowly defeated ballot Measure 80 during the 2012 election, which was an initiative that would have made possession and use of marijuana legal in the State of Oregon. The marijuana legalization measure did not garner enough votes to pass, with approximately 54% of Oregon voters saying “no” and around 47% voting “yes.”
The “Oregon Medical Marijuana Act” currently regulates the cultivation, distribution, possession and use of cannabis for medically qualified patients. Without a medical marijuana “prescription,” the possession and use of marijuana is still considered illegal in the State of Oregon.
Ballot Measure 80 would have legalized the use and possession of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and would have required the State of Oregon to regulate marijuana cultivation, distribution and sale, as well as restoring the industrial manufacture of hemp-related products.
Proponents of the initiative insist that legalizing marijuana will protect underage people from accessing the plant and that the State of Oregon will save millions of dollars by eliminating criminal charges related to the possession and use of marijuana, including the costs of law enforcement, court costs and incarceration of people charged with marijuana-related offenses.
By legalizing the drug and limiting sales to individuals over the age of twenty-one, the State of Oregon would create more than $140 million dollars every year by taxing the sale of cannabis and would open the door for manufacturing an unlimited number of hemp-related products that include, fuel, paper, clothing and much more!Since the State of Oregon is considered a forerunner for marijuana legalization, the legalization issue will likely reappear in Oregon’s future elections.
SUMMARY: Voters in Oregon approved medical marijuana legislation on November 3, 1998, when fifty-five percent (55%) of registered voters approved Measure 67, which became law effective December 3, 1998. This Measure removed Oregon state-level criminal penalties for the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana by Patients who possess a signed recommendation from his or her physician which states that marijuana "may mitigate" that person's debilitating medical symptoms. Medical marijuana Patients diagnosed with any of the following diseases or illnesses are legally protected under Measure 67: cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, multiple sclerosis and any other disorders characterized by muscle spasms, and nausea. Any other medical condition not listed above must be approved by the Health Division of the Oregon Department of Human Resources. Medical marijuana Patients (or their primary Caregivers) may legally possess up to three (3) ounces of usable marijuana and may cultivate up to but no more than seven (7) marijuana plants, only three (3) of which may be mature. The Measure established a confidential, state-run medical marijuana Patient registry which issues identification cards to qualified Patients in the state of Oregon. Medical marijuana Patients who do not join the registry or who possess amounts of marijuana greater than allowed by law may use the "affirmative defense of medical necessity" in the event they are arrested on marijuana charges and required to appear in Court. .
Oregon's Measure 67 does not allow for reciprocity; however, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled (and the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program confirmed) that medical marijuana Patients from other states are allowed to register with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program in order to obtain a registry identification card (the same as a resident of Oregon), which will thereby protect them from arrest or resulting prosecution for possession, use or cultivation of marijuana while in the state of Oregon. These out-of-state medical marijuana Patients are required to obtain a recommendation for the medical use of marijuana from a physician who is licensed to practice medicine in the state of Oregon. See State v. Berringer, 229 P3d 615 (2010).
AMENDMENTS: Oregon's medical marijuana law was amended via House Bill 3052, which became effective on July 21, 1999. This Amendment mandated that medical marijuana Patients (or their Caregivers) can cultivate marijuana in only one (1) location and it required that Patients be diagnosed by their physicians at least twelve (12) months prior to an arrest in order to make use of an "affirmative defense." House Bill 3052 also states that law enforcement officials who seize marijuana from a qualified medical marijuana Patient do not have to keep those plants alive pending a Court trial on criminal charges involving the possession, use or cultivation of medical marijuana. Last year the Oregon Board of Health added the condition of "agitation due to Alzheimer’s disease" to the list of qualifying debilitating medical conditions for legal protection.
In August 2001, the State of Oregon established guidelines which further define the relationship between physicians and their medical marijuana Patients. The new rule defined "attending physician" as "a physician who has established a physician/patient relationship with the patient; … is primarily responsible for the care and treatment of the patients; … has reviewed a patient’s medical records at the patient’s request, has conducted a thorough physical examination of the patient, has provided a treatment plan and/or follow-up care, and has documented these activities in a patient file."
Oregon state Senate Bill 1085, which became effective on January 1, 2006, raised the quantity of cannabis which qualified medical marijuana Patients may possess from seven (7) marijuana plants (with no more than three (3) mature) and three (3) ounces of useable cannabis to six (6) mature marijuana plants, eighteen (18) immature seedlings, and twenty-four (24) ounces of useable cannabis. Additionally, any state-qualified medical marijuana Patients who possess marijuana in amounts in excess of the new state rules will not be able to argue the "affirmative defense" of medical necessity at any criminal trial for possession, use or cultivation of marijuana. Medical marijuana Patients who don't register with the state of Oregon, but who possess medical marijuana in amounts which comply with the state law, will still be permitted to raise the "affirmative defense" at any criminal trial relating to medical marijuana.
Additional Amendments to Oregon's medical marijuana law redefined "mature plants" to only include those marijuana plants that are more than twelve (12) inches in diameter and height and established an Oregon state-registry for those who are authorized to produce medical marijuana for qualified Patients.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: The following is Oregon's Medical Marijuana statute: Or. Rev. Stat. §475.300 (2007).
CAREGIVERS: Oregon's medical marijuana law allows for designated primary Caregivers and defines them as "the person that has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a person who has been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition." The primary Caregiver is not the patient’s physician and must be at least 18 years old. The medical marijuana Patient can have only one (1) primary Caregiver. The following is Oregon's statute regarding medical marijuana Caregivers: Or. Rev. Stat. §§475.302(5); 475.312(2) (2007).
CONTACT INFORMATION: Patient and
Caregiver application information for the Oregon medical marijuana
registry can be accessed at Oregon Department of Human
Services, 800 NE Oregon St., Portland, OR 97232
Oregon Medical Marijuana Statistics: