Non-Oregonian Patients Complicate Enforcement of Medical Marijuana LawBy Guest Author March 17, 2012
Oregon law now allows out-of-state patients to obtain medical marijuana--with a prescription.
SALEM, OR — Oregon law does not recognize the validity of non-Oregon issued medical marijuana cards. If you reside outside of Oregon and wish to possess and consume marijuana legally while in Oregon, you must apply for an Oregon-issued card. Since an appeals ruling in 2010 clarified that non-residents may enroll in Oregon’s medical marijuana program, there has been an influx of out-of-state patients to Beaver State physicians and marijuana providers, even when marijuana use is illegal in the patients’ home states.
The 2010 Court of Appeals case confirmed that non-Oregonians may obtain an Oregon Medical Marijuana Card, which allows access to medical marijuana while in the state. To obtain a card, patients must see an Oregon-licensed physician for diagnoses and prescriptions and pay a $200 fee, among other requirements. Out-of-state medical marijuana cards or prescriptions are not sufficient. So far, 600 out-of-state patients hold an Oregon Medical Marijuana Card.
Although out-of-state patients are the minority of cardholders–72,000 Oregonians hold the cards–the numbers of out-of-state cardholders is rising. Possession of an Oregon medical marijuana card by non-residents is seen as a solution to the many complications for law enforcement, the courts and out-of-state patients caused by the failure of Oregon’s law to recognize out-of-state cards. Many medical marijuana patients from other states were prosecuted criminally in Oregon, even though their home state recognized their medicinal use of marijuana.
Criminal defense lawyers in Oregon unsuccessfully argued that Oregon was required to recognize the validity of the out-of-state cards. Not all states like Oregon refuse to recognize the validity of out-of-state cards. Currently, five of the 16 states that allow medical marijuana honor Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Card. However, none of them are Oregon’s neighbors. Though California, Washington and Idaho allow medical marijuana, they do not honor Oregon’s cards, despite the fact that the majority of out-of-state patients are from these neighboring states. Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Montana and Rhode Island honor Oregon Medical Marijuana Cards.
Law enforcement and jurisdictional issues arise when patients cross state lines. California, for example, issues its own cards to its own residents, but does not recognize another state’s cards. A Californian who carries an Oregon card, but not a California card, can be charged with illegal use of marijuana in their home state because they do not possess the California card. This makes it complicated for patients to get the help they need.
For patients who live in more distant states, like Maine, complications arise when they take medicinal marijuana through states where it is illegal. Although Mainers can use the drug while in Oregon and in Maine, they cannot use it in most states in between, even when its use would be beneficial. Other patients use the drug illegally in their home states for medical relief. These patients feel that possessing an Oregon Medical Marijuana Card gives them some credibility if they are caught with the drug.
However, law experts in Oregon warn that the card does not guarantee protection outside of Oregon or the states that honor them. States where medical marijuana is not legal may still prosecute cardholders. Nor does possession of any medical marijuana card prevent a federal criminal prosecution. Federal law does not recognize the medicinal use of marijuana, and possession, distribution and growth of marijuana are all federal crimes.
Until federal law recognizes the legality of medical marijuana use, medicinal marijuana patients will have to be extremely careful about how they obtain and use the drug. If you or a loved one have been accused of marijuana possession, distribution or cultivation and use in Oregon, yet have a prescription or card from another state, please consult an experienced criminal law attorney.
Article provided by Raivio Kohlmetz & Steen PC
by Guest Author