Medical Marijuana is legal. Don't discriminate against patients.

By Meg Ramirez of Sandy, Oregon. Previously, Meg contributed "Keep it simple, stupid."

I got a letter today… A trip to my mailbox is usually anything but exciting, but I must admit I was intrigued by the yellow manila envelope nestled in amongst the usual bills and junk mail today. Its cellophane window and bulk rate post mark told me it was a mass mailing, but the return address cryptically said only: Walter Cronkite.

Walter Cronkite? Why was the venerable old newsman writing to me?

A more careful examination of the front of the envelope told me. It said: “It’s time to end the disastrous War on Drugs.”

How interesting. "The most trusted man in America" is advocating against the War on Drugs and on behalf of the Drug Policy Alliance.

He writes:

Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens.

I am speaking of the War on Drugs.

And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the War on Drugs is a failure.

Who, indeed?

I raise this issue here on BlueOregon, because I feel it’s long past time for the Democratic Party to step up to the plate and stop this second, mad war that’s being perpetrated against our own citizens, right here on our soil.

But alas, the War on Drugs still consumes too much of our elected officials time, energy and resources. And it’s a bipartisan boondoggle. Consider this:

The Oregon Senate Committee for Business, Transportation, and Workforce Development will hold a public hearing today at 1:00 p.m. regarding S.B. 465. This bill, sponsored by the Drug Free Workplace Legislative Work Group, would unnecessarily expand the ability of employers to discriminate against state-registered medical marijuana patients. The bill would allow employers to adopt policies that would permit them to fire or refuse to hire patients for using their medicine in a responsible manner.

If this bill is passed, patients could be targeted for simply having marijuana metabolites in their system, without regard for when patients use their medicine, where they ingest it, or if they are actually medicated while at work.

The committee members are:

Sen. Rick Metsger, chair (D-26): (503) 986-1726 Sen. Bruce Starr, vice-chair (R-15): (503) 986-1715 Sen. Ryan Decker (D-14): (503) 986-1714 Sen. Larry George (R-13): (503) 986-1713 Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-25): (503) 986-1725

Three “D”s and two “R”s. I think it’s really sad that one of the few issues our contentious delegates can agree upon is sanctioning hard working Oregonians who have a legal prescription for a medically beneficial substance. Those folks don’t have it hard enough, right? They must suffer from cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, severe pain or nausea, seizures, or persistent muscle spasms to be granted a medical marijuana card – a prescription, if you will – and they’re still working or trying to find work. So let’s put ‘em on the unemployment line. How compassionate. And gee, it’s only a short hop from the unemployment line to public assistance. How intelligent.

A recent post here on BlueOregon objected to the proposal by Republican Representative Wayne Krieger to drug-test legislators. It inspired many comments, both for and against, this idea. Overwhelmingly though, most of those on the “pro” side, appeared to want it as a matter of equity. That is, if we, the people, must be subjected to drug testing, so should those who deem it appropriate to create, monitor and/or enforce such tests – such as politicians, policy setters, cops, judges, and doctors. Very few progressives seem to be in favor of forcing people to pee in a cup – especially when it might actually affect them.

What I also got from that discussion, was a general lack of knowledge of the whole issue by many. People seemed not to know how insidious drug testing has become. Here’s just one example:

“Narcotic Contracts” have become common practice at both the VA and with many Medicaid providers. These contracts demand that a patient who is prescribed Schedule II narcotics must submit to random, “blanket” drug tests, that check for everything from marijuana right up to meth, regardless of what the patient is being treated for. Veterans, who’ve served their country bravely are being cut off from the legally prescribed opiates they need to fight intractable pain, simply because they smoked a joint – usually used also to battle their chronic symptoms.

This policy is gaining widespread popularity because doctors are seeking to indemnify themselves against prosecution by an overzealous DEA. And it is but one of the many examples of those that have been victimized by this costly, ineffective and indiscriminate war.

Mr. Cronkite also wrote:

When I wanted to learn the truth about the War on Drugs, I took the same approach I did to the war on Vietnam: I hit the streets and reported the story myself. I sought out the people whose lives this war has affected.

I urge all Progressives, Democrats, and freethinking people to join me, “Uncle Walter,” and so many others in speaking up against this failed War on Drugs. Do some research. Peruse some web sites. Seek out the people whose lives this war has affected. Learn their tragic stories. Politicians know the War on Drugs is a failure that is ruining lives. We need to have the courage and conviction to tell it “the way it is,” as Mr. Cronkite wrote, without regard for the consequences or controversy that may ensue. And then we need to change it.

Special thanks to Nathan Miller, MPP legislative analyst, for the heads-up on S.B. 465. I urge you to call or contact committee members to protest this unnecessary and harmful legislation.

Comments

  • raul (unverified)
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    All,

    I had a walnut sized tumor resected from my spinal cord 3 years ago, and I suffer huge amounts of pain. Every month I get my legal pain meds refilled,and I feel like I have to beg for them. They are so concerned with the possibilty of someone getting high, they would rather you suffer.

    There is nothing lonelier than chronic pain. Even the ones who love you the most don't want to hear about it all of the time.

    Whatever anybody finds or uses to control that pain is their business-

    If you have to randomly test someone's body fluids with no probable cause to see if they are high, or may use something in their personal time, then their job is clearly not affected. If you can't tell, and the work doesn't suffer, what does it matter?
    
  • Thomas Ware (unverified)
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    Wasn't it Johnson who said "If we've lost Walter Cronkite, we've lost the wa"?

  • Nina (unverified)
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    i thought employers could already "discriminate" against medical mj users, meaning i thought they were protected under and could fire a medical mj patient.

    we must realize that this "war on drugs" is bringing in a lot of money for uncle sam. and dea officials get some good drugs during their gastapo seizures. when drugs are seized, especially of the marijuana variety, it isn't an uncommon practice for the officials to be told by whomever is in charge "help yourself. everyone else, turn your backs." a friend of ours son used to work for the dea and saw this happen on a regular basis. he eventually quit out of disgust.

    marijuana has never been linked to any death (unless it is mixed with another substance such as alcohol or other harmful drug) nor has it proven to be addictive--this is all according to our own dea. we all know alcohol and tobacco, the two legal drugs (filled with toxic chemicals) kill more people than all drugs, legal and illegal, combined. representatives in both parties know all this. people ask why doesn't the government legalize it and regulate it? there is, afterall, a lot of money to be made from this medicinal plant. however, there is more money to made when the prices are so high due to the criminalization of it.

    mj surpassed wheat and corn as america's new #1 cash crop last year. that says a lot right there as to this waste of money, time and effort war on drugs. in reality, it is a war on people. it certainly isn't a war on the drug lords and the dangerous criminal element.

    in the same family, hemp can do wonders for this planet. 25 (i believe that is the correct number) states are currently creating legislation that will make it legal (FINALLY) for farmers to grow hemp. hemp is easy to grow, is virtually pest-free and can be used for sooooo many things, such as a source of fuel, clothing, home construction. it's an excellent moisturizer and is very potent in essential omega oils. i recently read a report that it can be a very effective treatment for arthritis pain--either taken internally or applied topically. i once heard it said that hemp can save this planet. i believe there is a lot of truth in this statement.

    as far as drug testing, i've given my opinion on this site but i will re-iterate it again. they are an invasion of privacy and should only be used if there is JUST CAUSE that a person is indeed high/drunk/wasted and is therefore putting themselves and/or others at risk. (and given the number of injuries on the job that are due to lack of sleep outnumbers the injuries due to drug use, does this mean we should test people to make sure they are getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night?) and at that, the person deserves to be treated with respect and given the chance to get some help. (and if the war on drugs were put to an end, that money could be put towards treatment/counseling.) other than that, what people do on their own time is their own business. unfortunately, there are few politicians willing to back up that sentiment. we have, afterall, a government of big business.

    as far as people who use marijuana for medicinal uses, all i can say is that it is truly a horribly cruel act for any individual who would want to treat these folks as a criminal or who would want to be given the right to fire them.

    bless walter cronkite for having the guts to tell it like it is. if only more of today's journalists had the same courage.

  • Kirk Muse (unverified)
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    Should marijuana be legalized?

    It seems to me that this is the wrong question. The question should be: Should marijuana remain completely unregulated, untaxed and controlled by criminals?

    Because marijuana is now illegal, it is sold only by criminals (criminals who often sell other, much more dangerous drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine). And they often offer free samples of the more dangerous drugs to their marijuana customers. Thus creating the so-called "gateway effect."

    In a regulated market, this would not happen.

    Do the readers know of anyone who has been offered a free bottle of whiskey, rum or vodka when legally buying beer or wine? I don't either.

    If we regulate, control, and tax the sale and production of marijuana, we close the gateway to hard drugs.

  • (Show?)

    As much as I support the decriminalization and regulation ala tobacco for pot, I can sympathize with companies fearful of condoning what is still against federal law. You can be good as gold with your med card in Oregon all damn day, but if a federal agent catches you with a bag you'll still be sorry.

    Until we can gain sovereignity for our own drug laws, I sympathize with those who might be forced into compromising positions under federal law.

  • (Show?)

    Great points. Thanks very much for this.

  • BlueNote (unverified)
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    torridjoe points out the problem. Employers are in limbo and some protection is appropriate. ABC Trucking company in NE Portland can be sympathetic as heck to the medical needs of their employees, but if their driver "Bob" is pulled over for a random Federal DOT drug test and found to have THC in his blood, both "Bob" and ABC Trucking can be in a lot of trouble, particularly if it is demonstrated that ABC Trucking knew Bob was a medical marijuana user and kept him on the payroll anyway.

    As much as many of us would like this to be a "states rights" issue, so far the US Supreme Court is not buying it, and you can't expect employers to suffer the consequences while the country sorts this all out.

  • Meg Ramirez (unverified)
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    With all due respect to TJ and BlueNote, S.B. 465 isn't about catching someone with a bag of pot on them. [Besides that, when has any company been prosecuted or fined because an employee was busted with a bag of pot on him at work? How are they liable for that?] It's about employers being able to urine test their employees (even without probable cause) and if finding mj metabolites in their system, being able to fire or not hire them - even those with medical marijuana cards.

    The point being that marijuana metabolites remain in your system long past when any effect (either positive or negative - depending on your view... or your health) can be felt or it affects your performance. Thus:

    "If this bill is passed, patients could be targeted for simply having marijuana metabolites in their system, without regard for when patients use their medicine, where they ingest it, or if they are actually medicated while at work."

    As far as I know, enforcing a "drug-free" workplace by implementing urine testing, random or not, is not (yet) a federal requirement except for those in public safety positions. That is, the feds (or law enforcement in general) can't come in and decide to drug test employees at a Goodwill store, for instance, without probable cause. So, except in those federally regulated public safety positions, that point is moot, is it not?

    I wrote this article rather quickly in order to get it out in a timely manner because of the hearing yeaterday, so I didn't research other bills relating to his issue. Since then though, I came across two others. Interestingly enough, Sen. Deckert is sponsoring S.B. 423 (at the request of a constituent) which:

    "Prohibits employer from discriminating against individual with respect to hire or tenure or any term or condition of employment because individual engages in medical use of marijuana outside of workplace."

    So it seems, at least one member of the Senate Committee for Business, Transportation, and Workforce Development is against S.B. 465. I haven't had a chance to listen to the audio of the hearing yesterday yet. I'm going to try to do that today.

  • Meg Ramirez (unverified)
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    Also with all due respect to Kirk Muse:

    "Should marijuana be legalized?"

    and

    "Should marijuana remain completely unregulated, untaxed and controlled by criminals?"

    are two sides of the same question, aren't they?

    And I'm sorry, but the "gateway theory" is just more propaganda put out there by the War on Drugs proponents. It's been a staple of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under present drug czar John Walters.

    The notion that marijuana is a "gateway" drug has been refuted by nearly every peer-reviewed scientific study since 1950. The results of two more studies debunking this theory were just recently released: one (which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse), by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh; the other, by researchers in Brisbane, Australia, and St. Louis, reached much the same conclusion in a larger and more complex study published last month.

    This is one of the reasons why I wrote this article. Many people seem to have their hearts in the right places - so to speak - but are yet so woefully uniformed. Please, do some research! Don't rely on the familiar sound bites and inaccurate information that abounds on this controversial subject.

  • Nathan Miller (unverified)
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    Thanks for passing this around Meg. Look for another alert on this bill soon as there was no vote yesterday and the outcome of this is still uncertain. Everyone keep putting the pressure on so we can protect patients from a bad law!

  • shannon floyd (unverified)
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    As Meg points out, the negative environmental effects of the War on Drugs (which includes the non-psychoactive plant hemp) are huge. As are the effects on budgets. You can see the gouges being taken out of education and health care budgets as more jail cells are built to house more and more non-violent offenders of Nixon-Reagan-Era drug penalties.

    I am always excited to find a Democratic Party candidate who will talk about these issues honestly. It seems like there aren't many who will.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Kirk Muse:

    Should marijuana be legalized?

    It seems to me that this is the wrong question.

    Bob T:

    It's the wrong question because it perpetuates the myth that everything is illegal until the State says otherwise.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    You know...I always have thought medical marijuana should be available and that nobody should be able to discriminate against it. The problem you are always going to have is that those who are always out there pushing for the legalization of marijuana on the streets are generally not good looking people. They are generally a bunch of hemp wearing, drum circle dancing hippies and as much as I know that medical marijuana really helps some people I can't get it out of my head that I know these guys trying to get me to sign their petitions don't really car about the medical marijuana patients...they just want to smoke pot themselves. I can't get that out of my head and I'm for the legalization of marijuana...what about the old timer down the block who isn't able to think past the hemp wearing kid who tried to get him to sign a petition for legalizing marijuana to be supportive of anything marijuana related let alone medical marijuana

  • Signey Forager (unverified)
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    There is nothing sensible or humane about this country's drug policy. We spend huge amounts of time and money hunting down, prosecuting, and jailing people for marijuana possession, while people who are actually dangerous to society are ignored because we don't have the necessary resources to deal with them.

    There are chronic pain patients, like myself, who lose their livelihoods because no doctor will prescribe the pain meds necessary to keep them functional enough to work. In fact, I lost my house, after losing my job, because I could not find a doctor back home who considered my mobility more important than any fears associated with writing narcotics prescriptions. Just call me a drug war refugee, from Alaska!

    Even sillier, to my mind, is the idea that you have to spend over $100 to get a month's worth of Sudafed now. Just look how much better the meth problem is, now that poor people can't get sinus relief! Who would have thought that drug dealers would have connections to get around the problem of not having decongestants in the stores? Why in the world should we have to go to the doctor, get a prescription, get a limited number of pills per month for say $10, and go back for refills every month, for something we used to pay less than $15 for every 3 or 4 months - and no doctor bill?

    No, just like the "War on Terror", the "War on Drugs" has nothing to do with getting people to stop using drugs. It's just their way of warning us that they're declaring war on US, and what method they will be using this time.

    And Garrett, partly you see what you expect to see. I agree that there are a lot of wild looking activists, but there are a lot of "normal" NORML people too, we just don't stick in your memory, which is not necessarily a good thing for the movement, but maybe if you get out there next time too...

  • Meg R (unverified)
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    Gee, Walter Cronkite is 90 years old, and apparently HE can get by the dreadlocks and tie-dye.

    I might also add Garrett, that the "old timer down the street" could just be partaking of the herb himself! You never can tell. Haven't you learned yet not to judge a book by its cover?

    Thanks for the update Nathan.

  • MCT (unverified)
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    We've been brainwashed into thinking so many bad laws are for the good of the public, (can you say Patriot Act?.... I haven't heard any noise about re-visiting THAT travesty. Speak up if you dare.) For anyone to speak out with logic and an eye to the Constitution and fiscal prudence on behalf of taxpayers, is at least political suicide, and at most tantamount to treason. Prosecuting drug users has become a multi-billion dollar nation-wide industry since Nancy said "just say no", and it is supported in large part by the taxpayers. That IS the big picture. Think of all the jobs that would go away if we ended the war on drugs. Think of the campaign contributions that would disappear if the correctional institution contractors had to close some jails, such a huge proportion of which are occupied by drug offenders.

    It amazes me that ordinary citizens, stuggling with debts, daily travails and the inablility to make their paychecks stretch enough to pay for decent health care or save for their old age, would willingly agree to pay more taxes in order to keep illegal drug offenders housed in jail. Because they've been convinced illegal drugs are the root of all evil, and if not in jail these folks would pose a risk to their family's safety.

    Meanwhile big pharma corporations were given the right to run ads on TV, and now we're all fine with drugs as long as they are legally prescribed and every doctor and distributor along the way gets his cut of the pie. Heck, if we take THOSE drugs we might even get a chance to be part of a big class action suit! They even have legal drugs you can give your kids!

    As for the new criminal class....these days when an offender pays his fines & fees, serves his time, completes his community service and drug counseling sessions, sells his assets in order of accomplish all this (oh yes...he pays his way, the authorities DO charge him if he has any money, assets, or can work at all, regardless of what other hardships those debts cause his family and future)....he can still never consider his debt to society paid. Not likely he will ever have a decent paying job again, if he can get any job, with those pesky criminal background checks employers run now. Forever will he hang his head in shame for becoming a paying member of the new criminal class the war on drugs has created. Hey, if someone commits a crime in pursuit of drugs, or hurts someone or damages property because of irresponsible use of drugs....prosecute for those crimes, yes. But the WAR on DRUGS is like the war on poverty....unless you can catch and arrest Drugs or Poverty, and throw them in jail, they're gonna be out there walking the streets.

    It's a downward spiral. We can't keep backing drug offenders against a wall of state-mandated debt, unemployment and minimum wage (what a joke, 2x minimum wage is barely a livable amount, especially with all those taxes they pay for the war on drugs, and the extra insurance they pay for having bad credit). We treat them like pariahs for straying so far from humanity as to use illegal drugs, instead of legal drugs, and expect them to remain happily rehabbed and non-offending. And that is the strategy for the war on drugs.

    Heck yeah...end the war on drugs. And while we're at it, shouldn't we be equitable and bring back the three martini lunch? Oh, that was never illegal? Lord save us from the hypocrites.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    I was speaking to generalities...I know the old timer down the street may smoke 3 times a day. I could care less. Of course I expect to see a bunch of hippies trying to make marijuana legal. That's fine. Why wouldn't they stick out in my mind? My whole point was that they do. I get over it...lots of people don't.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Meg R:

    Gee, Walter Cronkite is 90 years old, and apparently HE can get by the dreadlocks and tie-dye.

    Bob T:

    So? The recently deceased Milton Friedman was 94, and he had been for drug legalization for many decades, and unlike Cronkite (apparently) would opposed the WOD even if it was effective.

    But anyway, the list of opponents grows, and we shouldn't care how they arrive at that conclusion. Don't forget, key opponents of alcohol prohibition, given to us by that Progressive/Christian-nut combo, were prohibition supporters less than a decade earlier.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Meg R (unverified)
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    Garrett - The point I was trying to make was, that as Signey Forager wrote before me, people advocating (and demonstrating) to legalize pot don't all look like "a bunch of hemp wearing, drum circle dancing hippies." That's quite a stereotype you've got going there, isn't it? Those kind of preconceived notions are so outdated and false, they just perpetuate the Drug War myths.

    Bob T - I guess you're a Libertarian, huh? I DO wish Dems would be more like the Libs on this issue. While I don't want to get into "dueling spokesmen" with you, I think you make some assumptions about Cronkite that don't appear to be supported by his statements. The letter I received was much longer than the little blurb published above and his concerns stated about the WoD weren't merely because it is ineffective.

    But as you wrote, we shouldn't care HOW people come to that conclusion, right? So why bring it up?

  • Douglas Heuer (unverified)
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    "...the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races."
    Harry J. Anslinger - America's 1st Drug Czar

    ...the primary reason to outlaw medical marijuana is to propagate the insane war on marijuana users. Patients using oxycontin and other narcotic pain relievers are not fired for their off-the-job use.

    SB 465 is the devil's work of discrimination. Besides, employers already prohibit impairment in the workplace.

  • K Fish (unverified)
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    Meg's so right about the drug war - you start tugging on one little thread, just get around the hysterical rhetoric long enough to ask a few questions, and all kinds of weird stuff comes out. This post is a bit long because I just kept tugging.

    I read the text of SB 465, and I listened to the archived audio of yesterday's hearings. I noticed that SB 465 was introduced at the request of something called the Drug Free Workplace Legislative Task Force. I did some googling and poking around to find out who they are and what they're about.

    Turns out their legislative agenda is part of the Oregon Business Plan (http://www.oregonbusinessplan.org), and one of their goals is to increase the percentage of Oregon businesses that are "certified drug free" from 25% to 75% within the next year. Since Oregon doesn't actually have a "drug free workplace" certification program in place right now (that's another one of their goals), I can only assume that they aim to increase work place drug testing by 200% - because their own research shows that only a quarter of Oregon's employers currently test for drugs.

    So medical marijuana patients are a bump in the road for them, and a red herring for us. The issue is not really that they are worried about people showing up high to do dangerous work - if that were the problem, they could have asked for legislation that directly addressed it. Or they could have worked with patient advocates, who support impairment-related testing.

    The real, actual issue is that the Drug Free Workplace Legislative Task Force wants employers to be able to sanction workers based on the presence of THC metabolites in their employees' drug test results, regardless of whether the employees are using pot in ways considered legitimate by the laws of the state of Oregon.

    Here is how Jerry Gjesvold, board chair of "Workdrugfree," an outfit behind the task force and SB 465, explained it to the Albany Democrat-Herald last November:

    <blockquote><i>"Without a written policy [for medical marijuana], employers can't just fire them," Gjesvold said....
    
    "This is not a federal issue, it's a state issue," Gjesvold said. "There is no known science-based information on the affect [SIC] of THC ... when it's in a person's urine. An employer has to be able to prove impairment on the part of the employee and that's not easy."</i></blockquote>
    

    There is a ton of scientific evidence about how long the acute effects of marijuana last, not to mention numerous well-known telltale signs of very recent ingestion. But a urine test can't tell how long ago someone ingested THC (could have been a month or longer before the test, depending on the kind of test and other factors), or how often they do it, or why.

    Jerry Gjesvold, who also incidentally heads up "employer services" for Serenity Lane, Inc., a Eugene-based drug treatment provider, doesn't want employers to have to prove impairment, because it can't be proved with a drug test.

    Drug testing, naturally, is the heart and soul of the drug free workplace task force operation. Or maybe "bread and butter" is a more accurate description.

    Would it be cynical to suggest that the good people who deal in "employer services" at Serenity Lane (or the other treatment outfits represented on that task force) are supporting this measure that will hurt medical marijuana patients because selling drug testing, intervention and treatment plans to Oregon employers is a big part of their business?

    I'm shocked and appalled at myself for even considering such a thing. I was probably reading too much into Jerry Gjesvold's comments in this Oct. 2005 Register Guard op-ed:

    <blockquote><i>Once employers have reason to be concerned, they often rely on Serenity Lane and other treatment centers to help them evaluate the situation and recommend a course of action.
    
    Given this, many of our patients come to us as the result of workplace referrals.</i></blockquote>
    

    Jerry's not exaggerating, if by "many" he meant "almost half." According to the supporters of SB 465 who testified in the committee hearing yesterday, 45% of referrals to drug treatment programs in Oregon are marijuana related. This is not because Oregon has an epidemic of stoners (though, arguably, it does). It's because the drug testing programs that the treatment industry is helping businesses (and schools) put into place are dragnetting marijuana users, who are then, if they are not summarily fired, put into "employee assistance programs" -- also designed with the help of the drug treatment industry, whereupon they are evaluated and then treated by, you guessed it, some of the same folks who are mowing down sick people in their effort to promote workplace drug testing in Oregon.

    The road to Serenity Lane is yellow indeed, but it ain't brick.

    Sorry if the length of this post made it tiresome. Watching sick people get beat up on gets me all upset. There is a real learning curve on these issues and I thought it might be helpful to take a closer look at just one cog in the machine that cranked out SB 465.

  • Meg R (unverified)
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    K Fish -

    Length be damned, man. That was some killer investigative work and very enlightening information. So, now we know. It always come down to following the money doesn't it? Thanks for digging this up and posting it.

  • K Fish (unverified)
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    Thanks, Meg. Full disclosure: I've spent significant time in the trenches with the people who sent you that Cronkite mailer, so I'm familiar with this ugly mother of all hydras we call the war on (some) drugs. It's been a long while since dissecting the beast has been a full time job for me, but this bill is giving me that old time feeling - I wasn't paying close attention in '05, when it first appeared as HB 2693.

    I'm going to keep on this a bit I think. HB 465 might die a timely death, but these guys have more bad ideas they'd like to share with us.

  • Meg R (unverified)
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    Please do K Fish. I, for one, am really interested.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    Meg,

    Funny you should mention I have stereotypes because last night as I walked into Powells guess who was standing at the front door trying to get me to sign his petition to make marijuana legal? I'll be happy to take a picture and e-mail it to you but he didn't exactly look like he had just got off work at the office. This whole discussion is really stupid. I think its absolutely ridiculous for the government to spend billions of dollars trying to catch people smoking pot or snorting coke. I am just trying to make a point that yes there is a stereotype and perhaps that is playing into the persisting problems that this country is having with accepting medical marijuana. I know the guy in front of Powells had nothing to do with medical marijana but lots of people don't get the difference. Lots of people voted for George Bush 2 times...see my point? American's don't get the difference and you're not going to get them to see the difference until you can change a stereotype that's been around for 40 or 50 years.

  • K Fish (unverified)
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    But, uh, the voters of this state did approve a medical marijuana measure. By a lot. As have the voters of -- how many is it now? Eight or nine other states? And the legislatures of a few more? And the legislators in those states weren't going out on a limb when they got their bills through; poll after poll shows massive support for medical marijuana, even when the same polls indicate much less support for full-out legalization. People understand the difference very well.

    n.b. I gave the wrong date for the Albany Herald Democrat story above. The story ran in 2005. My bad.

  • Lee Berger (unverified)
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    SB465 would enable employers to discriminate against medical cannabis patients, simply by virtue of their status as medical cannabis patients, and avoid being held accountable for this unlawful discrimination.

    Please contact Senator Metsger and encourage him to stop this bill now.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    K Fish,

    Yes they did approve medical marijuana. So did a lot of other states. You're absolutely right. I'm just saying that most of the resistance we get now is from people who confuse medical marijuana people with the total legalization of marijuana people. If it wasn't such a problem we wouldn't keep having to come back around and fight for patient rights all the time.

  • Jim Klahr (unverified)
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    Sadly due to the WOD there is a very large contingent of people that are being over looked. Those who use medical marijuana responsibly and who are trying to become productive again in a society where they are already most likely secretly discriminated for their disabilities and illnesses. The last thing that people trying to re-assimilate back into the work force is a law based on the mis conception that metabolites in ones system equates to impairment. When it comes to cannabis it does not.

    One of the best advantages of using cannabis I have seen dealing with 1000s of MMJ users, is the side-effect of watching 100s get away from the stupifiers of harsh pharmaceuticals such as oxycotin, morphine and other more physically diminishing drugs.

    I find hypocritical that those who push for such laws as SB465 which would take away peoples ability to become more responsible are also the same that are against ways for them to become productive again.

  • Meg R (unverified)
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    As you may have read in the O, Drug Czar John Walters announced Bush's latest drug control strategy Friday in downtown Portland.

    Not surprisingly, "The White House strategy seeks an extra $7.5 million for random drug testing in school districts."

    "Science is changing the easy-going attitudes parents once held about drugs, Walters said."

    He then goes on to cite such "scientific" evidence such as this gem: "Drug abuse spreads like tuberculosis from one child to the next, he told reporters."

    "I recognize there are critics of random drug tests," Walters said. "But trust me, they're gonna look stupid" in coming years.

    I know I cherry-picked these quotes, but seriously... who, exactly, looks stupid? Please show me the scientific evidence that proves that random drug testing prevents or stops drug use or abuse.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Meg R:

    Bob T - I guess you're a Libertarian, huh? I DO wish Dems would be more like the Libs on this issue. While I don't want to get into "dueling spokesmen" with you, I think you make some assumptions about Cronkite that don't appear to be supported by his statements. The letter I received was much longer than the little blurb published above and his concerns stated about the WoD weren't merely because it is ineffective.

    Bob T:

    I'll accept all of that, but often it's the ineffectiveness of such a campaign (including campaigns against other items or actions) that make one look at the whole issue and change their broader opinion (it's not working, there's a natural right to..., etc).

    Meg R:

    But as you wrote, we shouldn't care HOW people come to that conclusion, right? So why bring it up?

    Bob T:

    Okay, you've got me there. Perhaps the issue I was getting at was the annoying tendency of WOD opponents (those few from the Dem side as opposed to the Libertarian side) to not notice or acknowlege allies on the Repub or "right" if one wants to use that term, when such opposition to the WOD can be trendsetting and make it easier for other similar people to rethink their positions.

    I recall a former Republican governor of New Mexico who openly declared that he was for drug legalization, not too long ago. Can you name a Democrat governor who's come out of that closet? It's not easy to do so -- just look at what Clinton did to his Surgeon General after she merely suggested doing a study on legalization (and compare that to Regean not being bothered at all about two members of his circle supporting legaliztion). Libertarians on the other hand will look for allies in both parties, and highlight such efforts. I just get annoyed with this perception that the Democratic Party is a freedom party (which includes drugs) while the Repubs are not, when in fact the Democrats are up to their eyebrows in the WOD. They just let the Repubs do all the talking (and the worst President regarding the WOD was Reagan, I hate to say, because the way it was escalated introduced serious squashing of property rights and 2nd Amendment rights just for starters.

    As to your final point, yes, it doesn't matter how opponents arrive at their conclusions so long as they do. But Dems should keep in mind that any new drug war critic in the "other camp" may have more value because of the audience willing to listen to him. Again, a straight-laced lifelong Republican WOD supporter is more likely to get his mind changed by Bill Buckley or a Republican governor than by an old hippie saying exactly the same thing. The WOD can really crack wide open if serious opposition comes from the so-called conservatives (and I mean office holders from town to the US Congress more than I mean constituents) because the Dems will be more likely to follow that lead rather than the Repubs following a serious Democrat effort because they'll just dig in their heels (unless another me-too Republican majority exists, this time for something good).

    Bob Tiernan

  • Ed Brown (unverified)
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    An employer's point of view.

    In a recent study it was shown that methamphetamine users had a work place accident rate of 10 times that of workers not impaired by any drug. The same study showed that alcohol abusers had an accident rate 8 times as great as an employee who used no alcohol or drugs. The rate was also 3 to 5 times greater for barbiturates and for club drugs like cocaine and Ecstasy. This same study revealed that users of marijuana alone had exactly the same ratio of accidents in the workplace as those who used no drugs or alcohol at all. I have been an employer, a manager or foreman of larger ironworks construction jobs or engineering firms for over thirty years. As with all employers, I am extremely concerned for the safety of employees and the public and very conscious of the bottom line economics of safely and professionally running a business. Most of our jobs were out of town or out of state and the trust and confidence of our crews performance was paramount to our success.

     It is wrong to me that marijuana is still classified as a schedule 1 drug and that we spend literally billions of dollars a year to combat a drug that in and of itself may be one of the safest and most effective herbal therapies that has proven time again to have great medicinal value.  Our businesses have suffered the losses of drug related accidents and employee problems.  I am the first to say that I will terminate any employee immediately if he is impaired by alcohol or hard drugs at work. I have terminated many.  With over thirty years of experience, I am also very willing to hire and keep those employees who occasionally use marijuana as their weekend or evening release.  I am also very willing to hire that medical patient who chose to be a functioning professional with medical marijuana therapy over what would surely be prescribed cocktail of narcotic painkillers and mind altering pharmaceuticals.  Almost across the board, these employees who use marijuana, and do not use other drugs or alcohol, have been among the best performing and valued employees that a company could have working for it.
    
     The fact that marijuana has and is proving its value as a medicine is a part of the reason that the pharmaceutical manufactures are clamoring to develop drugs for many ailments that are based on the effective chemicals within marijuana.  The other reason is that these companies see a huge market for these safe and affective therapies.  Imagine the billions of dollars that could be directed for better purpose if we de-scheduled marijuana and concentrated on the real problem of drugs in this society.  Employers, legislators and those that affect the decisions made in the drug wars should be better educated and have better information as to the differences before moving in the wrong direction with only a very biased side of the picture. After all, over 2,000 good and compassionate medical Doctors in Oregon can't be considered as wrong for placing their patients on medical marijuana therapy.
    

    Respectfully,

    Ed Brown Portland, Oregon

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    An interesting reply, but "I am the first to say that I will terminate any employee immediately if he is impaired by alcohol or hard drugs at work. I have terminated many."

    Wouldn't it have been cheaper, more efficient, and more considerate of employee well being to offer them treatment instead?

    Could you also cite the study, please?

  • Ed Brown (unverified)
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    I have absolutly had it with trying to be compassionate to alcoholics and those on Meth.. The accidents and thefts and lost customers caused by these are still costing me.
    Yes, I will be happy to cite the reseach study that I am referring to.. It was a larger university study compleed in 2006 and I admit that I must find it again so that I can maybe post the link directly to that paper.

  • (Show?)

    Ed--would you immediately terminate someone with narcolepsy who had an accident? Why are people addicted to meth any different?

    Thanks for the cite, when you get it. If you can't find it exactly, just name it and I'll look.

  • Ed Brown (unverified)
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    I'm not sure this is the exact one that I was reading.. I will still be trying to recover that study as I am now on a new PC without my old files. When I come across it, I will be happy to post.

    Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care. 58(3):561-570, March 2005. Toxicology Screening of Trauma Patients.

    I have almost retired from the heavy construction trades and physical ability and health were critical to the performance of our employees.. Now with some of my study towards Nursing complete.. My opinions may change.. We'll have to see.

  • Meg R (unverified)
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    I'm confused, TJ. You support drug testing - and firing - medical marijuana patients even though they may not have been impaired on the job... yet you believe it's more considerate to offer a person who's high on the job (on meth or whatever) treatment? I don't get it.

    I'm not saying I don't agree with you, I just don't understand the seemingly conflicting viewpoints.

  • K Fish (unverified)
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    Ed, wow, a letter from you on the Senate floor tomorrow would be a good thing.

    I wanted to make another correction to my polemic, above - shouldn't have conflated the figure given by SB 465 supporters for the percentage of referrals to drug treatment programs that are marijuana-related (45%) with the overall percentage of Serenity Lane's clients who end up there because of workplace drug testing for marijuana. I don't think my mistake has a lot of bearing on my argument, but wanted to acknowlege it. So much for late night screeds.

    Anyway. SB 465 heads to the floor. Very disappointing.

  • alice (unverified)
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    You know the most disturbing thing about this, to me, is not the discrimination factor. That alone deserves the dismissal of some our law makers. It is their failure to conduct proper fact finding regarding ALL issue’s before them that is of most concern to me. For SB465, they continue, in spite of multiple corrections, to falsely report 19,000 med cannabis users. FACT: there are 12,895 actual patients. Those numbers in between represent caregivers and gardeners FOR the patients. False: UA's determine impairment. Fact: UA's are neither designed nor are they capable of showing results connected in any manner any level of impairment. Question: How many of the 12,895 patients are gainfully employed or even employable in positions where their job duties may create or increase unsafe work environs? Answer: No one knows. Therefore how does anyone know IF there is a problem to begin with? Question: Has there ever been an on the job accident attributable to medical cannabis?
    Answer: No. Again, what’s the problem?

    Request’s for research, are thus far ignored and information not provided. Yet the bill moves forth out of committee. Why? There is no evidence to demonstrate an issue problematic to employers. Question: have employers explored or implemented impairment testing devices?
    Answer: “No, it’s too expensive” No costs were given. How can the senate committee determine if this is an unreasonable cost of doing business? I researched it and found that it is a cost of $10.00 per month, per employee with discounts available for larger employers and trial periods. Compare that to the expense of UA's, the cost of training a new employee after an otherwise productive OMMP card holding employee is discharged. This bill is grossly discriminatory because it does not consider, include and hold employers or workers responsible for impairment factor’s from hangover’s, fatigue, prescribed narcotics and illegal drug use, etc., ONLY OMMP patient’s. I suspect if they held all impairment causing sources to the same standard as they are with medical cannabis their overall workforce would shrink to inoperable proportions. They, along with OMMP cardholders and any other interested person will be hard pressed to find anyone who SUPPORTS allowing any impaired worker on the job. Employer’s should not be allowed to hold one group to a higher standard than all workers. Employer’s should be required to explore all reasonable alternatives (using actual impairment testing devices) BEFORE asking to have such discriminatory laws passed. Proponents and opponents alike should be mandated to PROVE their case for any and all measures. At the end of the day, our lawmakers must be held accountable for failure to investigate issues before them that would allow them to make the most fair, unbiased decisions possible. There is a nasty air of prejudice and discrimination before us right here, in Oregon, from our lawmakers we entrusted to protect our rights. I am frightened. Alice

  • Jim Klahr (unverified)
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    Is SB465 really about work place impairment or is it more about the disgruntled who support the war on drugs and have hated the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act since its inception in 98? Regardless of the driving forces behind it, which could also include the future of capitalist dream of money that grows on trees or in this case bushes, this bill stinks like the dead red herring it is.

    Why are Employers worried about work place accidents? Maybe in the the mom and pop and small independently ran businesses it is the compassion for the workers but in big business it is the liability litigation that can cost their insurance companies that is at the heart of the matter.

    As far as the Serenity Lane folks go . . . .

    In a meeting recently with members of the Governors Council on Drugs and Alcohol and OMHAS (Office of Mental Health and Addiction Service, we the ACMM (Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana to DHS) asked if there were any statistics on how many people were in treatment for the use of Medical Marijuana . . the answer is zip

    Another undefined consequence in SB465 is that they are talking about all cardholders, why should the 5000+ non patients be discriminated against for helping the sick, soley because they carry a card . . Jesus am I smelly McCarthyism here?

    SB465 needs to be defeated or stopped and SB423 which has its hearing this monday needs support.

    Jim Klahr - OGF

  • Ed Brown (unverified)
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    I sincerely hope that the COmmerce committee will act with Godspeed and pass SB-423 to the Senate Floor for a vote.

    SB-423 is a simple but very important and very needed bill. It states only thatemployers shall not descriminate against medical marijuana patients.

    If SB-423 can be passed ahead of the vote for SB-465.. then this bad bill (465) will surely die a fitting death. SB-465 is the kind of bill that can be tied up in courts for a long time before it is settled. SB-465 is the kind of bill that can cost elected officials their seats in the upcoming elections.

    Respectfully,

    Ed

  • Meg R (unverified)
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    From the O today:

    Prozanski [author of SB 423] agrees with the need for safeguards at work, but he says, "we need to not just go on a witch hunt." He plans to pass Senate Bill 423 out of committee. Prozanski hopes the two sides can work out a deal. "Good for him," Metsger says. "I'm going to try to do my best to block" his bill. Later, Metsger tempered his comments to say he'd have to study Prozanski's proposal. Still, if there's any language "that would conflict with our efforts on (SB) 465," Metsger warned, "I would vigorously oppose it."
  • alice (unverified)
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    .......and the sick, the hurting, even the dying get caught in the middle. $$$$$ professional power lobbyist's $$$$$ don't really care about the most detrimental consequential affect to "we the people". If we citizen's cannot elect honest, straight forward senator's and representatives to benefit all people without the power of money dictating the outcome then why on earth do we even have a legislature? Just let the "big business" run everything? Would it not save dollars to eliminate the "middle man"? You all may not necessarily believe cannabis is medicine but you should watch this bill that addresses a minority group of some of the most vulnerable of Oregon's citizen's. You will be sickened by the lack of compassion, compassion that is covered up by a "sea of green-backs". Whats next that may affect you? This shows a trend for sure. It sickens me. You voter's, in 1998 gave us the OMMA. To do a comparison of what we "had" vs what we have would anger anyone if you care about sick folks. If you dont believe in the efficacy of cannabis medicine and choose to hold any doubt, just ask any of those who benefit. No stoner's, just folks who's life is made a bit better from it's use. It's herbal and has the most minimal, if any negative side effects. So what is the damn problem? We are living testimony that it works. Even some in the Capitol have watched as their very own family member's have used it when nothing else worked still vote against the beneficial bills before them. Changes to the OMMA laws that make greater barriers and more associated stress to take advantage of this medical program. So narrow minded and cruel. I cannot believe the indifference towards the poorest, sickest of this state by the lawmaker's! We must work to get SB465 defeated and SB423 passed to protect those few Oregonians that are still capable of being productive in the workplace. Alice

  • Ed Brown (unverified)
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    In the world the patients and caregivers of the medical marijuana program must live and work in; discrimination in the workplace is common occurrence. Even today, on the Senate Floor of the State of Oregon, there is legislation (SB-465), now passed through committee, that would absolutely and blatantly make legalization of discriminatory practices a reality passed into law and only affecting a small group or portion of those patients who use marijuana for their therapy as medicine under the supervision of licensed health care professionals.

    ORS 475.300 FINDINGS The people of the state of Oregon hereby find that: (1) Patients and doctors have found marijuana to be an effective treatment for suffering caused by debilitating medical conditions, and therefore, marijuana should be treated like other medicines; (2) Oregonians suffering from debilitating medical conditions should be allowed to use small amounts of marijuana without fear of civil or criminal penalties when their doctors advise that such use may provide a medical benefit to them and when other reasonable restrictions are met regarding that use;

    ORS 659A.124 Illegal use of drugs. Allows that the protections of ORS 659A.112 prohibiting discrimination in the workplace do not apply to any job applicant or employee who is currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs. This same statute in the definitions of rule under ORS659A.100 states clearly “Illegal use of drugs” means any use of drugs, the possession or distribution of which is unlawful under state law or under the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C.A. 812, as amended, but does not include the use of a drug taken under supervision of a licensed health care professional.

    In 1988, the Drug Enforcement Administration concluded two years of hearings on the issue of medical marijuana. The DEA's own Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young, found that: "The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. Judge Young added to that conclusion with “Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."

    SB-465 is a very good example of how the few businesses that stand to profit most from workplace drug testing and drug rehabilitation services have sponsored pending legislation that directly attacks the few medical marijuana patients that are able to engage in remunerative employment as made policy of the state by ORS 659A.103 (the public policy of Oregon to guarantee disabled persons the fullest possible participation.) SB-465 goes further into the realm of discriminatory practice by allowing employers to discriminate against those suffering from disabilities by allowing refusal of or termination of employment regardless of where the use of medicinal marijuana occurs. If a person uses his medical marijuana under the supervision of his or her health care provider at home or away from the work place and simply tests positive for the presence of THCA in his body, he or she could be immediately removed from the workplace even though it is well established that the current test for cannabis or THC bears no indication on the level of THC in that person’s system at the time. More over, these tests in no way indicate any level of performance ability or impairment of that individual at the time of the test or the levels during working hours.

    There are a limited number of those suffering from normally debilitating disease, accident or illness that have achieved the ability to enjoy the fullest possible participation in the social and economic life of the state, to engage in remunerative employment, to use and enjoy places of public accommodation, resort or amusement, to participate in and receive the benefits of the services, programs and activities of state government and to secure housing accommodations of their choice, without discrimination as defined in ORS 659A.103 the Policy. Unfortunately the people of Oregon who have elected, with the advice of their Doctors, to use marijuana as their safest and most effective therapy still require our protection and your action in the passing of this bill.

    I strongly urge the Senate Committee on Commerce to pass SB-423 on to the floor of the Oregon State Senate for consideration and vote. I would like to further request that this committee use all effort and Godspeed to promote an early vote and passage of this very important amendment to ORS 475.300 “the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.”

    Respectfully

    Ed Brown A concerned advocate of non-decrimination and a registered voter in Damascus, Oregon

  • Meg R (unverified)
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    Thanks for quoting the law, Ed.

    As Ed wrote, ORS 475.300 clearly states that "marijuana should be treated like other medicines"; and that card holders "should be allowed to use small amounts of marijuana without fear of civil or criminal penalties".

    I was particularly struck by Metsger's hard-nosed attitude. Prozanski hopes the two sides can work out a deal. Not, Metsger. "Good for him," he sneers like some snotty school boy, "I'm going to try to do my best to block" him. No discussion, no compromise, no debate for Rick.

    P.S. Does anyone remember how the OMMP was raided for funds to (partially) bale out the state during the last budget shortfall?

  • alice (unverified)
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    what i recall is this. the OMMP had a bank account balance of around 1 million. this account was/is realized from "registrant fees" exclusively. NO tax dollars are used to operate this program. This surplus of monies, collected from registrants, was said to be used for system upgrades and many other improvements for the program. I'm not sure exactly who or how the State of Oregon's "financial wizards" found these monies, but they were supposed to be sanctioned from raiding, because they are not tax payer based. There was a bit of "creative manipulation" of laws, rules and policy, imho and they "raided" approximately $900, 000.00 from the patients/OMMP registrants. For additional information, Grant Higginson, DHS is familiar with how this happened. alice

  • alice (unverified)
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    in addition to Ed's quote i would like to share this with you as well, you see employers are already protected under ORS 475.340. i personally know workers that have been discharged due to an OMMP card under these protection's.

    "475.340 Limitations on reimbursement of costs and employer accommodation. (1) A government medical assistance program or private health insurer to reimburse a person for costs associated with the medical use of marijuana; or (2) An employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace. [1999 c.4 §16]

    alice

  • (Show?)

    "I'm confused, TJ. You support drug testing - and firing - medical marijuana patients even though they may not have been impaired on the job... yet you believe it's more considerate to offer a person who's high on the job (on meth or whatever) treatment? I don't get it.

    I'm not saying I don't agree with you, I just don't understand the seemingly conflicting viewpoints."

    I don't "support" it at all. However, I understand why the option needs to be open to employers based on federal law.

    Nonetheless, the more compassionate approach is treating it as a health issue and covering it under benefits.

  • alice (unverified)
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    With all due respect, the contentious points are: 1. This bill fails to consider all causes of impairment, only the IMPROVABLE issue of those using cannabis medicines. 2. Employer's have failed to make ANY reasonable attempts to actually use available tools to determine impairment, not only for medical cannabis cardholders, but for ALL workers to ASSURE them that the workplace is safe for all, even un-impaired medical cannabis cardholders. 3. Employer witness's claim there is no available data for impairment testing, yet within 20 minutes of my first inquiry; I obtained, easily, information of cost. The cost is around $10.00 per employee, per month. Discounts are available for large employers and trial periods. 4. Medical cannabis patients are not asking for workplace accommodation. 5. Medical cannabis patients AGREE that a drug safe workplace is of the utmost importance. OMMP patients don’t want to work in an environment that is dangerous either. 6. Employer's and other supporter's of SB465 have not been asked by the senate to demonstrate that a problem even exists. Not one accident can be cited, not one incident connected to any workplace hazard has been documented with connection to medical cannabis, not one! 7. Illusions of 19,000 med cannabis cardholders all operating heavy equipment and machinery is a simple and pure lie! There are in REALITY, 12,895 registered patients. There are approx 6100 registered caregivers and gardeners for the patients registered added to that. However some of the 6100 counted are the same patient counted twice because you are required to list a "grower" that can be the same person as the ALREADY counted patient. 8. I deserve to have evidence presented that shows, how many of the 12,895, actual patients are gainfully employed in all industries here in Oregon. Of that number how many are employed in the "crafts" industry. Employers have failed to address that issue as well thus failed to prove there is even a problem. 9. Employers have failed to demonstrate that ORS:475.340 has failed to protect them as it currently stands as law. I know of several workers’ already discharged due to OMMP status, WITHOUT the service and results of impairment testing. 10. This IS discrimination being exercised to its fullest potential. If anyone were to ask a few questions instead of making shortsighted assumptions about this issue it is easily recognized.

    The most important fallacy purported here is that medical cannabis patients pose a GREATER risk, caused by impairment, at the workplace than ALL other causes of impairment. They have failed to offer ANY evidence that OMMP patients offer ANY risk at all.

    Anyone of you who have ever suffered a cold/flu, troubled personal relationship's, job stress, back pain, a headache, a toothache, a broken bone, a hangover KNOWS how distracting pain can be, if you would just take a moment to consider it. If anyone of you has EVER had pain medicines prescribed to you by a doctor also knows the long lasting brain numbing side effects from that as well. If any of you have ever used ANY OTC cold/flu preparation and pain reliever’s, you know the drowsiness associated. If any of you have ever reported to work after a sleepless night, full well knows the side effects of sleeplessness and fatigue. How many of you have been asked "what’s wrong?" only to respond "I didn't sleep well last night, I’m just not up to par". Then YOU have reported to work and performed YOUR job duties IMPAIRED! How dare any of you place the OMMP patient to a higher standard! OMMP patients do not want an unsafe work environ. OMMP patients DO NOT ask for "workplace" accommodation. OMMP patients EXPECT to be treated with the same EQUAL consideration as all other workers, period. If ALL causes of impairment were considered and treated with equality, would employers have an adequate workforce left to maintain the flow of business?

    The worst thing in all of this? It's the fact that the Senate Committee has FAILED to require the backer's of this bill to prove there is a problem. They have FAILED to review ANY evidence! This bill is being pushed by drug testing companies and addiction treatment facilities. You should keep an eye on this bill and forget the issue. The behavior all interested parties are demonstrating here sets precedence for all issues. Someday one of those future bills may strike you at the heart of your attempts to remain productive or to enjoy some other "right" you have. This is dangerous legislation regardless of the issue before them. So, after they weed out the OMMP participants from the workforce will they next come after YOU?

    Alice

  • alice (unverified)
    (Show?)

    With all due respect, the contentious points are: 1. This bill fails to consider all causes of impairment, only the IMPROVABLE issue of those using cannabis medicines. 2. Employer's have failed to make ANY reasonable attempts to actually use available tools to determine impairment, not only for medical cannabis cardholders, but for ALL workers to ASSURE them that the workplace is safe for all, even un-impaired medical cannabis cardholders. 3. Employer witness's claim there is no available data for impairment testing, yet within 20 minutes of my first inquiry; I obtained, easily, information of cost. The cost is around $10.00 per employee, per month. Discounts are available for large employers and trial periods. 4. Medical cannabis patients are not asking for workplace accommodation. 5. Medical cannabis patients AGREE that a drug safe workplace is of the utmost importance. OMMP patients don’t want to work in an environment that is dangerous either. 6. Employer's and other supporter's of SB465 have not been asked by the senate to demonstrate that a problem even exists. Not one accident can be cited, not one incident connected to any workplace hazard has been documented with connection to medical cannabis, not one! 7. Illusions of 19,000 med cannabis cardholders all operating heavy equipment and machinery is a simple and pure lie! There are in REALITY, 12,895 registered patients. There are approx 6100 registered caregivers and gardeners for the patients registered added to that. However some of the 6100 counted are the same patient counted twice because you are required to list a "grower" that can be the same person as the ALREADY counted patient. 8. I deserve to have evidence presented that shows, how many of the 12,895, actual patients are gainfully employed in all industries here in Oregon. Of that number how many are employed in the "crafts" industry. Employers have failed to address that issue as well thus failed to prove there is even a problem. 9. Employers have failed to demonstrate that ORS:475.340 has failed to protect them as it currently stands as law. I know of several workers’ already discharged due to OMMP status, WITHOUT the service and results of impairment testing. 10. This IS discrimination being exercised to its fullest potential. If anyone were to ask a few questions instead of making shortsighted assumptions about this issue it is easily recognized.

    The most important fallacy purported here is that medical cannabis patients pose a GREATER risk, caused by impairment, at the workplace than ALL other causes of impairment. They have failed to offer ANY evidence that OMMP patients offer ANY risk at all.

    Anyone of you who have ever suffered a cold/flu, troubled personal relationship's, job stress, back pain, a headache, a toothache, a broken bone, a hangover KNOWS how distracting pain can be, if you would just take a moment to consider it. If anyone of you has EVER had pain medicines prescribed to you by a doctor also knows the long lasting brain numbing side effects from that as well. If any of you have ever used ANY OTC cold/flu preparation and pain reliever’s, you know the drowsiness associated. If any of you have ever reported to work after a sleepless night, full well knows the side effects of sleeplessness and fatigue. How many of you have been asked "what’s wrong?" only to respond "I didn't sleep well last night, I’m just not up to par". Then YOU have reported to work and performed YOUR job duties IMPAIRED! How dare any of you place the OMMP patient to a higher standard! OMMP patients do not want an unsafe work environ. OMMP patients DO NOT ask for "workplace" accommodation. OMMP patients EXPECT to be treated with the same EQUAL consideration as all other workers, period. If ALL causes of impairment were considered and treated with equality, would employers have an adequate workforce left to maintain the flow of business?

    The worst thing in all of this? It's the fact that the Senate Committee has FAILED to require the backer's of this bill to prove there is a problem. They have FAILED to review ANY evidence! This bill is being pushed by drug testing companies and addiction treatment facilities. You should keep an eye on this bill and forget the issue. The behavior all interested parties are demonstrating here sets precedence for all issues. Someday one of those future bills may strike you at the heart of your attempts to remain productive or to enjoy some other "right" you have. This is dangerous legislation regardless of the issue before them. So, after they weed out the OMMP participants from the workforce will they next come after YOU?

    Alice

  • Ed Brown (unverified)
    (Show?)

    MARIJUANA AS WONDER DRUG

    A NEW STUDY in the journal Neurology is being hailed as unassailable proof that marijuana is a valuable medicine.

    It is a sad commentary on the state of modern medicine -- and US drug policy -- that we still need "proof" of something that medicine has known for 5,000 years.

    The study, from the University of California at San Francisco, found smoked marijuana to be effective at relieving the extreme pain of a debilitating condition known as peripheral neuropathy. It was a study of HIV patients, but a similar type of pain caused by damage to nerves afflicts people with many other illnesses including diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

    Neuropathic pain is notoriously resistant to treatment with conventional pain drugs.

    Even powerful and addictive narcotics like morphine and OxyContin often provide little relief. This study leaves no doubt that marijuana can safely ease this type of pain. As all marijuana research in the United States must be, the new study was conducted with government-supplied marijuana of notoriously poor quality.

    So it probably underestimated the potential benefit.

    This is all good news, but it should not be news at all. In the 40-odd years I have been studying the medicinal uses of marijuana, I have learned that the recorded history of this medicine goes back to ancient times and that in the 19th century it became a well-established Western medicine whose versatility and safety were unquestioned. From 1840 to 1900, American and European medical journals published over 100 papers on the therapeutic uses of marijuana, also known as cannabis.

    Of course, our knowledge has advanced greatly over the years.

    Scientists have identified over 60 unique constituents in marijuana, called cannabinoids, and we have learned much about how they work. We have also learned that our own bodies produce similar chemicals, called endocannabinoids. The mountain of accumulated anecdotal evidence that pointed the way to the present and other clinical studies also strongly suggests there are a number of other devastating disorders and symptoms for which marijuana has been used for centuries; they deserve the same kind of careful, methodologically sound research. While few such studies have so far been completed, all have lent weight to what medicine already knew but had largely forgotten or ignored: Marijuana is effective at relieving nausea and vomiting, spasticity, appetite loss, certain types of pain, and other debilitating symptoms.

    And it is extraordinarily safe -- safer than most medicines prescribed every day. If marijuana were a new discovery rather than a well-known substance carrying cultural and political baggage, it would be hailed as a wonder drug. The pharmaceutical industry is scrambling to isolate cannabinoids and synthesize analogs, and to package them in non-smokable forms.

    In time, companies will almost certainly come up with products and delivery systems that are more useful and less expensive than herbal marijuana.

    However, the analogs they have produced so far are more expensive than herbal marijuana, and none has shown any improvement over the plant nature gave us to take orally or to smoke. We live in an antismoking environment. But as a method of delivering certain medicinal compounds, smoking marijuana has some real advantages: The effect is almost instantaneous, allowing the patient, who after all is the best judge, to fine-tune his or her dose to get the needed relief without intoxication. Smoked marijuana has never been demonstrated to have serious pulmonary consequences, but in any case the technology to inhale these cannabinoids without smoking marijuana already exists as vaporizers that allow for smoke-free inhalation.

    Hopefully the UCSF study will add to the pressure on the US government to rethink its irrational ban on the medicinal use of marijuana -- and its destructive attacks on patients and caregivers in states that have chosen to allow such use. Rather than admit they have been mistaken all these years, federal officials can cite "important new data" and start revamping outdated and destructive policies.

    The new Congress could go far in establishing its bona fides as both reasonable and compassionate by immediately moving on this issue. Such legislation would bring much-needed relief to millions of Americans suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and other debilitating illnesses.

    Lester Grinspoon, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is the coauthor of "Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine.

  • alice (unverified)
    (Show?)

    “As Oregon Democrats, we hold a fundamental belief that all people must be able to achieve personal security for themselves and their family. No matter where they live in our state, people must have access to the products and services necessary for a healthy and productive life. A Living Wage is a critical step in laying the foundation for self-sufficiency. We respect the inherent human dignity of each person, regardless of differences in race, religion, or other aspects of their individual identities." Their "mission statement" is hypocritical. Here’s why. They want you to believe that, however the OMMP medical cannabis community is feeling the sting of prejudice and discrimination, we are being robbed the opportunity and enjoyment of the democrats own mission statement… why? Because our medicine is controversial? Because some choose to pretend we don’t exist? Because of their own personal prejudice? They, apparently, will not even make the attempt to review unbiased scientific studies that prove the efficacy and promise for so much more from cannabis. Those people instead rely on reports from the same people who gave us “Vioxx”. No you say? Take a look at what they are overwhelmingly supporting; SB294, SB465, SB161, HB2808.. just a few to get you started. So, what is the reward for them to support these bills that rob us from our rights to work, rights to healthcare, rights to securing basic necessities and our equal rights? I want to be clear here, I am a 3rd generation dem, however, I now doubt the honesty of their conviction. They are cowardly in these stated words because more than anything else, they want to keep their jobs and if they lose a few "points" to a silent minority, so what. They are afraid to stand up for the things they say they will. They “cherry pick” the safest commitments and hope the rest go un-noticed. They won’t “up the ante” to the populist opinions in fear they will loose their majority status. Therefore they fail their own party member’s and all people. They have less than 2 years to make the changes “we the people” wanted, proven by the “blue wave” in the ’06 elections. The first 2 months in office have proven to me, there are no changes so far and from what I see their wont be. They prefer to allow OMMP patients to be denied access to an herbal remedy (health care). They prefer OMMP patients be denied the ability to engage in “living wage” opportunities”. They prefer to not support our “human rights: guaranteeing Equal Rights for ALL people”. They prefer the “easy way out”. “We respect the inherent human dignity of each person, regardless of differences in race, religion, or other aspects of their individual identities. • Shelter, Food, Health Care, and a Living Wage: Securing the Basic Necessities of Life • Human Rights: Guaranteeing Equal Rights for All People”

    I say prove it. I am quite upset about this, clearly. I am not alone with this sentiment. Are these issue’s going to be the democrats “macaca moment” in ’08? alice

    note: earlier, this post was evidently mis placed in a different thread...new blogger, please forgive. i believed i was posting my beliefs, addressing the direction i would like to see the democratic party moving in vs what i currently experience, first hand. thank you for your patience while i learn to be a better blogger. alice

  • Tony (unverified)
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    I was just wondering if they could pass a bill that said " No employer can be held responsible for the actions of any employee under the influence of a prescription drug ." Isn't that the problem they are trying to prevent !!!

  • alice (unverified)
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    It’s probably not that simple in the world of "lawmaking". What I see, really going on here is the bottom line for drug testing companies and drug rehab facilities as they are the ones who are pushing the bills. SB294, SB 698, SB465, HB 2808 and quite possibly HB 2298. They base this on the premise that only 13% of Oregon employer's have comprehensive drug-free programs/policy in place. Theses same folks have a statewide if not a national push towards having all employers’ drug test all workers due to concerns over impairment. This equates to a tidy sum for those in the business of selling drug tests and for those operators of drug rehab facilities (which is generally where folks end up as a condition of work or consequences from the legal system) doesn’t it? The most successful approach, for workers and employers is to actually test for impairment. It’s cost effective and accurate. It will also benefit by detecting all causes of impairment and not just single out the OMMP participant. UA’s don’t, never have and never will give results associated with impairment. Using UA’s to determine impairment is like trying to turn a rose bush into a redwood. It’s simply not possible. Alice

  • alice (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Each year, more than 700,000 people are arrested for marijuana offenses, costing American taxpayers more than $7 billion annually. $7 BILLION TAX DOLLARS ANNUALLY!! Can you imagine that? CAN YOU afford it?

    alice

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