Bill would put limits on medical pot growers

SALEM, Ore. -- Medical marijuana supporters spoke with lawmakers on a piece of legislation they say would force patients to turn to the black market.

There was a public hearing Monday on Senate Bill 936, which would place regulations on the state's medical marijuana growers.

The bill would limit the number of plants that growers could have at one time to 12 plants in residential areas and 24 in non-residential areas.

Supporters of SB 936 say there needs to be government regulation over the pot, just like with any other medicinal drug.

"At this point, it's our intention to protect the integrity of the medical marijuana program. That was one of my main goals from day one, and we will do that," said Republican Senator Jeff Kruse, one of the bill's sponsors.

Some involved with the medical marijuana program, like Medical marijuana patient Jeremy Williams, argue that the changes would limit access to those using pot as a remedy.

Williams, who suffers from chronic pain due to bad discs, got his chance to be heard as one of dozens of opponents to SB 936 who testified Monday during a public hearing with the Measure 91 committee.

Voters approved the measure back in November, legalizing recreational marijuana. The law goes into effect in July.

"I did not take the medicine today because I drove. I wanted to comply but you can see how much this is really hurting me to do this so please listen to me," Williams told the members. "Please do not limit the plants. That will take my medicine away."

Opponents, like Williams, say the grow limitations will force patients to turn to non-medical sources which, they say, is less safe and more expensive. Many medical pot growers provide the medication at little or no cost to the patients.

Kruse argues that medicinal marijuana needs to have government regulations in place, which is the case with all approved medicine.

"I think there's probably a fear but at the end of the day I think patients are still going to have access and maybe better access than they've got now," Kruse said.

There is a similar bill, House Bill 3400, which many SB 936 opponents consider less restrictive.

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