Medical marijuana changes among Oregon's new Jan. 1 laws

December 29, 2005

Brad Cain, Associated Press

 Holders of medical marijuana cards in Oregon now will be allowed to have up to 1 1/2 pounds of dried marijuana and six mature plants under a new state law that takes effect Jan. 1.

The increased possession limit, part of an effort to clear up ambiguities in the state's 1998 medical marijuana program, was among the hundreds of new laws approved by the 2005 Oregon Legislature.

Other new laws taking effect New Year's Day include ones to stiffen high school graduation requirements, require seat belt use in taxis and shuttle vans and require the Oregon State Police to create a Web site with a list of high-risk sex offenders.

One of the co-sponsors of the new medical marijuana law, state Sen. Bill Morrisette, said it's aimed at putting the program "on more solid footing" by making it easier for police to interpret the law and harder for criminals to exploit it.

"It protects these patients and plugs some of the loopholes law enforcement people were worried about," the Springfield Democrat said.

The change also has been endorsed by Stormy Ray, a multiple sclerosis patient who was a leading spokeswoman for the 1998 ballot measure authorizing medical marijuana. She says the new law will ensure that she can obtain enough marijuana, which she says helps ease her pain and helps her sleep at night.

"It's a wonderful day for cardholders," said Ray, who is one of 12,000 Oregonians who hold state registration cards authorizing them to use medical marijuana.

Current law permits cardholders and caregivers — people who grow marijuana for cardholders who can't or don't want to grow their own — to grow three mature and four immature plants and to possess up to three ounces of dried marijuana.

Under the law taking effect Jan. 1, cardholders will be allowed to grow up to six mature plants and 18 seedlings and possess 24 ounces of dried marijuana.

However, in exchange for the increased possession limits, the Legislature approved a provision sought by police saying that patients and caregivers can no longer argue in court that having more than the specified amounts is a medical necessity and therefore permissible.

Also, caregivers will be limited to growing plants for no more than four patients per year.



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