Students should say yes to medical marijuana act

Federal Drug Czar John Walters came stomping through Oregonearlier this week in an effort to frighten voters away from Measure33. He told a crowd at Helensview High School that, “[w]hen weapprove of something like this, we are telling our children thatmarijuana use isn’t serious and that we are willing to play dumbabout its dangers.”

If Mr. Walters had had his way back in 1998, Oregon would stillarrest and imprison seriously ill patients who use medicalmarijuana. Today, by opposing Measure 33, he’s trying to stop themfrom having safe, reliable and legal access to that medicine. TheDrug Czar’s scare tactics didn’t work in 1998, and if enoughstudents mail in their ballots this election, it won’t work thistime either. For me, Measure 33 is intensely personal. As avolunteer at Voter Power – a grassroots organization dedicated tohelping patients wend their way through the bureaucratic processthat is today’s medical marijuana program – I have personally cometo know many of Oregon’s more than 10,000 medical marijuanapatients.

It breaks my heart when I see them in the pain that can becaused by being without their medication, and I will admit that attimes I have gone out onto the street to help these patients findtheir medical marijuana. I’ve been lucky so far, but on any one ofthese

shopping trips I could easily have been arrested or worse. Evena minor arrest would put my student aid in jeopardy, something Isimply cannot afford.

Measure 33 fixes this situation by allowing patient access tomedical marijuana at state-regulated, nonprofit dispensariessimilar to pharmacies. This step is the right thing to do forOregon’s patients, and will relieve those of us who serve as ad hocfrom being forced to risk our lives or our freedom simply to findmedical marijuana for a friend.

Not only do students have a direct interest in seeing Measure 33pass, we should also want to see it done because it’s simply theright thing to do. Already in Oregon, with a doctor’s approval,patients are legally allowed to grow, possess and use marijuana formedical purposes. The one thing they cannot do is obtain marijuanaat a local dispensary or pharmacy.

Why should Oregon force the sick and dying to go to a streetcorner drug dealer or, as is often the case, ask their son ordaughter to find it for them? This is simply madness.

Just because the federal government won’t remove patients fromthe battlefield of the war on drugs doesn’t mean that Oregon has tofollow blindly along. We can make our own laws here in Oregon, andcan decide to respect patients and their doctors if we sochoose.

By passing Measure 33, we’ll be doing just that.

Vote Yes on Measure 33.

Mary Otte is a student at Western Business College in Portland.She is the

Poetry Editor of the Portland Alliance and working to helppass

Measure 33.