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'You're Alive You're Not Living'

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Linda Spencer's debilitating spinal pain once prompted her doctors to prescribe three doses of morphine a day.

"You can't focus," says Spencer, 45. "You're alive; you're not living."

A better option? Marijuana.

Like more than 20,000 other Oregonians last year, the Gresham woman uses medical marijuana legally to manage her pain. She was one of about 60 people who filled a room in outer Southeast Portland on Saturday afternoon to listen to California marijuana activist and grower Ed Rosenthal talk about the best growing practices.

Voter Power and Oregon Green Free, two medical marijuana rights organizations, also used the event to publicize efforts to change Oregon's decade-old Medical Marijuana Act. Medical marijuana activists are gathering signatures for an initiative for the 2010 ballot to create state-regulated dispensaries for qualified patients.

Currently, patients must grow their own or designate a grower.

So far, the groups have collected 26,000 signatures and expect to submit 150,000 signatures this fall, said Voter Power director John Sajo. the initiative needs 82,000 to qualify.

If approved, the revision would fix a fundamental problem in the state law, Sajo said.

"A law that depends on sick people to produce their own medicine is deeply and seriously flawed," he said.

Medical marijuana activists failed on a similar effort in 2004. Opponents of medical marijuana say too many people abuse the system, using it to sell cannabis illegally.

But Sajo said the proposal, in addition to helping patients, could become a cash cow for the state, through taxing sales and charging licensing fees to growers. Voter Power's early estimates forecast as much as $30 million in revenue in the first year, he said. He projected as many as 100,000 patients in the next decade.

"We feel confident voters are ready for this," Sajo said.

Registered nurse May Wiley said she started volunteering with medical marijuana efforts a year ago.

She helps terminally ill patients with less than six months to live connect with marijuana suppliers.

"They just don't know where to turn," she said.

The initiative could change that. "I'm tired of seeing patients suffer," Wiley said.

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2009 The Oregonian
Contact: letters@news.oregonian.com
Website: The Oregonian newspaper: Oregon News - OregonLive.com
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