Edward Medina Jr., owner of A Better Way Medicinal Alternatives penned an open letter to the Oregon Health Authority discussing his concerns over how the OHA is ignoring the challenges the bans in conservative Oregon counties have created bottlenecks for patients and reinvigorated the illicit market in Southern Oregon. This letter is printed in it’s entirety with only spelling & grammatical corrections made.
To whom it may concern:
I just need to express my feelings regarding the OHA (Oregon Health Authority) medical marijuana public hearing held on the 28th in Portland. I traveled 300 miles each way, and took 2 days away from my company, to speak at your event. This event left me feeling discounted and completely ignored.
Ed Medina and Lori Duckworth outside the OHA Hearing. Image: Sandy Diesel.
To hold a comment period of such great importance to me and others who are the most directly impacted by the changes to the OMMP since M91 passed, and then cut us off at 3 minutes, regardless of the situation, was humiliating, and very disheartening.
It was abundantly apparent that this was just a formality for you and your staff, and of no real value or significance. Andre Orso, head of the OHA MMJ program, stuck his head in just long enough to make this look official. However, it was apparently just for show. The two ladies who oversaw the event couldn’t have cared less about what was said, and apparently had more important things to do. No one who needed to hear what we had to say was even present.
Oregon state politics is a sham. and here is why…
I own and operate the only legitimate dispensary in south eastern Oregon, in the city of Klamath Falls. Maybe you are unaware, or maybe you just don’t care, but we are screwed down here to put it bluntly. we exist as a medical only dispensary in a county that has banned ALL licenses, medical and rec. The city has allowed medical only dispensaries, and we are now fighting to allow medical processing, and we are losing. It will not happen due to over-regulation, a direct result of the state legislative changes to the medical program, and the powers given to local authorities to run things as they see fit. Our local leaders couldn’t obstruct this program any more if they tried. and that is the state’s fault in their rush to make some tax dollars at the expense of the patients, and the hard work and battles fought by those in these conservative areas. We are moving backwards, not forward with the rest of the state. The battles continue across the state. All will be decided November 8th, I guess.
You really need to stop and think about the implications and consequences this will have in these areas. When the rest of the state goes rec, where are we supposed to get our processed products? You know, the ones sick patients actually need? Once processors and growers get their rec license, we cannot purchase from them. Convenient way to kill medical only dispensaries. Just the cost of progress, right?
The meeting room used for the “Public Hearing”. Note the two ladies (OHA employees) opposite the testifier. Image Lori Duckworth
We have followed the rules since day 1, almost 3 years now, and have had no issues or problem. We have jumped through your hoops and the state changes, with little to no complaints, even though for us nothing else has changed for three years. Besides a drop in sales, increased expense, and an explosion of the black market, nothing has changed at all. We still work every day to provide to cardholders only, and have made it work so far.
What exactly are we supposed to do now? Just throw in the towel when it becomes impossible for us to purchase products, and too costly to operate? What are our patients supposed to do? Drive to the closest rec store over 70 miles away through the snow and mountains?
We have sat and watched as the OMMP program has been slowly destroyed, and replaced with recreational businesses, trusting and believing that someone up there is paying attention and considering the impact on areas like ours. Obviously we were wrong.
The opt-out option in conservative areas such as ours has had devastating consequences. Maybe you have heard about the hundreds of pounds of illegal cannabis busted leaving through Klamath county? Maybe the thousands of plants cut down by our sheriff’s department? How about the ads in the nickel want ads openly selling and delivering illegally? It is literally the wild west down here, and no one is doing anything to stop it. I understand that that is the fault of our local authorities, but YOU gave them that power. They do not understand the consequences either. Because no one has taken the time to explain it to them besides us in the industry, and they don’t listen to us. Rob Patridge, the head of the OLCC, is our DA. and even he has refused to hold an open discussion about what is happening in our county. Absolutely no one seems to care. I guess when this all blows up in your face, you will be forced to deal with it. Unfortunately, those of us trying to do things legally and professionally will be long gone. Was this oversight in recent legislation? Or intentionally ignoring the problem? It is hard to tell anymore.
The people and business owners in areas that allowed the industry to thrive have forgotten who built this industry from the ground up. Patients. Medical patients. And they are the ones getting screwed the worst. Most in the areas where the industry is allowed to move forward, are happy. Not quite sure why, they are getting screwed as well. But, its all in perception and understanding, I guess.
I’m not sure how many dispensaries, processors and growers around the state are in our position, but some things are true for all of us. The cost of over-regulation, the opt-out option that will lead to corporate control of the legal markets and the black market will be stronger than ever. I don’t think this is what Oregonians voted for when they said yes to Measure 91. This is a disaster, and Oregon will look foolish to the rest of the country when this all blows up. Good job Oregon, we have legal pot now… well, sort of.