MY VIEW • Medical marijuana users are regular people
by: L.E. BASKOW, Federal agents raided the home of medical marijuana grower Don DuPay (left, with son Lee and renter Jon Kappelman) last month. The suggestion that users of medical marijuana are criminals or fakers irks radio host and activist Russ Belville.

Regarding the Aug. 3 article 'Feds strike medical pot growers,' the reactionary idea that 14,868 Oregonians are registered as Oregon Medical Marijuana Program cardholders is somehow 'abuse' needs to be nipped in the bud (pardon the pun).

Is there any evidence of this 'abuse'? How many of the 14,868 people legally using marijuana as medicine under state law fake suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, severe chronic pain, severe chronic nausea, cachexia (loss of weight, muscle wasting, fatigue, weakness and decrease of appetite), gastrointestinal disorders, seizures … ?

The cry of 'abuse' probably is the shock that there are so many OMMP participants.

Faced with this number, 14,868 people, critics see folks who don't outwardly appear sick using medical marijuana, and they think of that as 'abuse.'

What does someone with Crohn's disease or persistent muscle spasms or severe chronic pain look like, anyway? Perhaps we could amend the law to say you can only have medical marijuana if you look really, really sick.

This 14,868 number exists because Oregon law requires cardholders to register. Other medical marijuana states, like California, do not. It is estimated that there are more than 150,000 medical marijuana users in California - is that 'abuse'?

Finally, let's admit that in any regulatory scheme, there is a nonzero number of people who will cheat the system. So there may be a small percentage of OMMP participants who are 'abusing' the system.

Maybe they're recreational pot smokers who decided to jump through the hoops, fill out the paperwork, feign an illness and have an OMMP card they don't deserve.

So? Now that this cardholder has paid $100 to the state, he hopefully won't suck up the state or local tax money involved in arresting or busting him, and he won't be contributing funds to a criminal black market drug dealer, and his name and address are on file with the state.

Of course, we could just do the sensible thing and legalize marijuana for all adults and tax it. After that bridge fell in Minnesota, our government is telling us it will cost us billions to fix all of America's bridges.

Legalized marijuana - taxed and regulated like hard liquor - would raise $10 billion to $14 billion in tax revenues and law enforcement savings per year.

Russ Belville is the associate director of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and host of 'The Russ Belville Show' on KPOJ (620 AM).

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