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The Bulletin Supports Medical Maijuana Discrimination


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Fire 'em all! That is the thrust of your Feb. 25 editorial calling for laws allowing Oregon workers who therapeutically use marijuana to be immediately and arbitrarily fired, regardless of where or when they used their medication. Darkly hinting of problems in the workplace, you see danger in even such basic tasks as driving a car. Clearly you agree with the position of Associated Oregon Industries that the number of Oregonians lawfully registered with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program is a serious and burdensome problem which actually ranks as an emergency!

Well, maybe you are right. Maybe the number of accidents caused annually has reached the point where it is a real emergency.

Reviewing available information, including the number of accidents caused by therapeutic marijuana-using workers cited by AOI, we find the following: 1998, 0 accidents; 1999, 0; 2000, 0; 2001, 0; 2002, 0; 2003, 0; 2004, 0; 2005, 0; 2006, 0; and from 2007, 0! Yes, there is a story in those numbers, and it has a lesson to be learned - a lesson that fits right in between those we learned from other stories, like Chicken Little, whose sky was falling, and the boy who cried "wolf," who felt neglected and made up claims of danger.

And so it has been that for the last three legislative sessions, AOI's "Chicken Little," Don Harmon, has teamed up with a small rotating cast of ditto-heads in the role of the boy who cried "wolf" to call for emergency legislation to deal with the growing problem of therapeutic marijuana-using Oregonians actually having jobs and being productive members of society.

But even they had to answer "none" when asked by Rep. Peter Buckley how many accidents had been caused by those workers. Some emergency!

Each of the ditto-heads prefaced their remarks with claims that they themselves had voted for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, but then claimed that the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program had become riddled with fraud and abuse and that the number of registrants was both proof of that claim and a real problem for Oregon employers. But patient numbers are not evidence of abuse - convictions are. One thousand, eight hundred convictions a year would be an abuse rate of 10 percent.

But by most accounts there are fewer than 1 percent, or 180 OMMP registrants, annually arrested for violating provisions of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act and, of course, far fewer convictions. Ninety-nine percent compliance seems OK to me. It is noteworthy that, by law, registrants who are convicted of violations must report that fact to the OMMP and may not be registered as a grower for five years.

No one would argue for allowing impairment in the workplace, so why would The Bulletin and AOI not have supported HB 3635, by Rep. Buckley, to allow employers to remove persons from dangerous occupations due their use of a therapeutic agent which may cause impairment and included therapeutic agents with proven impairment records?

Apparently, the bill's fatal flaw was that it did everything that Harmon and the AOI wanted except for one thing - arbitrarily firing all Oregonians using therapeutic marijuana. The complaints by this paper and the AOI about the burden of HB 3635 requiring a medical officer to review urine test results seem hollow given that the United State Department of Transportation ( USDOT ), whose drug test rules are the most stringent requires, for fairness, just such a medical review.

Every Oregon truck driver, school bus driver or heavy equipment operator is subject to those regulations. Furthermore, those USDOT regulations have a clause which declares null and void any state or local law which inhibits their enforcement, including OMMA.

Considering his actions AOI's Harmon seems obsessed in his focus on the OMMP. He has proposed wholesale revisions of OMMA that would essentially gut the program and force thousands of patients back into the black market for their medications. His revisions have no relationship to any workplace problem.

So what is his problem?

Perhaps he is not actually interested in workplace safety, but rather in being famous for rolling back OMMA. His allies are from the urine-testing/drug treatment industry which bemoans the "confusion" caused them by calling marijuana medicine, even though it is, by state law. That industry faces increasingly harder times convincing employers to urine test their employees and wants the State of Oregon to ensure them customers.

Workdrugfree, his lobbying group, is closely associated with and perhaps funded by national "Drugfree" groups that have always called therapeutic marijuana a fraud.
Any normally intelligent Oregonian wants a safe workplace. Don Harmon, the AOI and The Bulletin want arbitrary discrimination. Any normally intelligent Oregonian should, like me, disagree!

Souce: Bulletin, The (Bend,OR)
Copyright: 2008 Westen Communications Inc.
Contact: bulletin@bendbulletin.com
Website: The Bulletin | Bend / Central Oregon News, Sports, Business, Weather, Entertainment, Classifieds
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