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DHS news release


June 17, 2005


Contact: Jim Sellers (503) 945-5738

Program contact: Grant Higginson, M.D. (503) 731-4000


State to resume issuing medical marijuana cards to qualified patients



The state-operated medical marijuana program will resume issuing registration cards to qualified patients today as a result of Attorney General Hardy Myers' opinion that a June 6 U.S. Supreme Court ruling does not invalidate the program.


The Oregon Department of Human Services had continued processing applications but discontinued issuing registration cards in the wake of the ruling, which prompted DHS to immediately seek an attorney general's opinion.


"Starting today, we will mail 100 to 150 cards per day until the 547 applications that the program approved since June 6 have been mailed," said Grant Higginson, M.D., administrator of the DHS Office of Community Health and Health Planning. "We are resuming standard operations in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program."


However, he noted that, in addition to holding Oregon's program valid, the attorney general's opinion also says, "The (state) Act neither protects marijuana plants from seizure nor individuals from prosecution if the federal government chooses to take action against patients or caregivers under the federal Controlled Substances Act."
Higginson said the voter-approved program will take the attorney general's advice to alert applicants and card holders that, although the state law protects them from state prosecution, it does not protect them from federal prosecution. He said a letter explaining this will accompany all cards that are issued and will be posted on the DHS Web site . The attorney general's opinion and his news release will also be posted on this Web site and on the Oregon Department of Justice Web site as well.


More than 10,000 qualified patients now have registration cards through the state program, one of 11 in the nation. Patients qualify for the program if a state-licensed physician stipulates that they suffer from one of nine conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, severe pain, or persistent muscle spasms, and that the patient may benefit from the use of medical marijuana.