Oregon First State To License Medical Marijuana Patients

Guidelines take effect next week allowing the state health department to register and license medical marijuana patients who legally possess the drug under state law. Oregon will become the first state to issue ID cards to medical marijuana patients.

“Medical marijuana proponents and law enforcement officials found common ground to encourage patients to register” when drafting the regulations, NORML Legal Committee member Leland Berger said. Berger sat on an advisory task force that helped compose the guidelines.

Oregon’s medical marijuana law, passed by voters in November 1998, mandated the Oregon Health Division to establish a medical marijuana patient registry and issue identification cards to qualified applicants by May 1, 1999. Patients issued ID cards and who possess state authorized quantities of marijuana will no longer be subject to arrest or criminal penalties. Patients who possess larger amounts of marijuana, or who fail to register with the state, may raise at trial an affirmative defense of medical necessity against state criminal marijuana charges.

The guidelines also allow the state to issue cards to patients’ primary caregivers to shield them from prosecution. Patients will have to reapply for ID cards annually, and will likely have to pay a $150 application fee to offset costs of the program. The state registry will remain confidential and its records will not be subject to public disclosure.

For more information, please call either Leland Berger of the NORML Legal Committee @ (503) 287-4688 or R. Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.