ANOTHER VOICE: Keep safe access to marijuana for those who really need it

The question of whether Hood River County should impose a moratorium on the opening of legal medical marijuana dispensaries is coming before the County Commissioners on April 21.

There is a great deal of discussion about the safety of opening these businesses, that they would cause an increase in marijuana use by youth in Hood River County, and not enough discussion about patients’ right to treat conditions for which their physician has agreed that cannabis would be advantageous for their treatment.

I currently work with legal medical marijuana patients; I see their faces every day. I see the tears of gratitude when a patient who has tried years of conventional medicine yet still remain ill, finally see real results with the use of cannabis as medicine.

I’ve heard story after story that would break your heart, of lives torn apart by use of strong and dangerous opiates. Medications that leave patients not only still chronically ill, but dependent on these truly frightening drugs, losing the ability to hold down a job, maintain relationships and constant concern with when the next pain pill will come.

We’ve seen a huge increase in heroin use and death, and doctors and health officials are now connecting this increase with patients who became addicted to opiates while using legally prescribed pain medications. Cannabis can be a much safer alternative to chronic pain management.

Our police chief has said that if people don’t have their license and want it, they will get it. I have to agree; that has been happening for decades; it’s called the black market.

Have you ever gone into a medical marijuana dispensary? Not unless you had a valid OMMP card and state issued identification; these are professional businesses owned by business people who respect the law and wish to keep their own licenses!

If kids want to get pot to get high, they will do the same thing our generation did; get it from school or friends or head to the skate park, just like they do with alcohol.

But the thing that disturbs me the most are the many elderly patients that we work with. They did not grow up in a free-love, pot-smoking society. They’re all of our grandparents; they’ve worked hard and voted and raised families and gone to church and now they are ill. If they are lucky enough to have a physician who is open-minded enough to recommend cannabis as a treatment, do we really want them out trying to “score” on the black market?

In 1997 Oregon voters determined that cannabis is indeed legitimate medicine that helps many people stay viable and active members of their communities. In 2013 the Oregon Legislature voted to allow dispensaries so patients could have legal place to get their medicine. Both measures were signed into law by our governor, the doctor.

Please respect this and support these patients by not denying them safe access to their medicine.

Pamela Tyler-Kroon lives in Mount Hood.

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