Proposed patient registry working in Oregon

January 30th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND — To enter “The Happiest Place on Earth,” you descend beneath a southeast Portland strip mall, down a stairway ripe with marijuana smoke.

At the door at the bottom, you flash a small plastic card that certifies the holder as a member of Oregon’s medical-marijuana patient registry. Behind the door is the nation’s first open Cannabis Cafe, affectionately known as a very “happy” place.

There is no such card or registry in Washington, but the Legislature is considering following Oregon’s lead as part of a sweeping overhaul package pending in Olympia.

Patients in Washington are anxious about the proposed registry, seeing it as an invasion of privacy and a tempting tool for police, who strongly favor it. Reflecting those fears, the current proposal calls for a voluntary registry.

But Oregon’s 11-year experience with a mandatory registry is telling. A consensus of patient advocates, police, attorneys and health-care professionals describe it as a the least controversial part of the Oregon law.

“I’ve been preaching this to my colleagues in Washington: A registry can protect you,” said Madeline Martinez, executive director of Oregon NORML, which owns the Cannabis Cafe. “Every state should have one.”

In Oregon, a patient whose doctor recommends medical marijuana must enroll and pay the $100 yearly registry fee to gain protection from arrest or unwarranted searches of a grow site.

Membership has almost doubled from 23,114 in 2008 to 41,407 in 2010. Nearly a quarter of Oregon’s doctors have a patient on the registry.

Lt. Ted Phillips of the Oregon State Patrol’s narcotics section said

Article source: