KATU, ABC News,
SALEM - Restrictions on medical marijuana would be tightened under a bill approved by the Oregon House. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeff Kruse, R-Sutherlin, said it would avert potential problems with the federal government, which has gone after California's program in court. "I have come over time to understand that this is legitimate medicine for some folks," said Kruse, who is chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee. "But it is also a very popular recreational device for a lot of other folks.
We need to make sure that the line between these two populations is clear and distinct," Kruse said. A spokesman for A Life with Dignity Committee said the bill makes the wrong changes to the law that voters approved in 1998. "It will severely limit patient access to medical marijuana," said spokesman Chris Rich. Oregon is one of nine states that allows medical use of marijuana, but patients in all states except California must produce their own or receive it as a donation. Patients must have specified medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or conditions resulting in severe pain or nausea, seizures or persistent muscle spasms. About 4,500 Oregonians are registered with the program through the Department of Human Services. Each patient or a designated caregiver can produce three mature and four immature plants, and patients can possess up to 7 ounces. The bill, which moved to the Senate after it was approved 35-19 by the House on Wednesday, would require patients to inform the state program about their growing sites - information that can be furnished to authorized police agencies. Kruse said registered patients would be issued two cards, one listing the location of the site and the other without, so that patients or caregivers will not be arrested for cultivation or possession. The bill also would limit a designated caregiver to three mature and four immature plants at one "grow site," which is defined as one per street address. The bill would allow the state to revoke the registration of anyone convicted of manufacturing or delivering specified drugs, including marijuana. On the Net: Bill Number HB2939 (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)