Wednesday, November 22, 2000
By Harold Morse
Most of the more than 1,200 Oregon residents registered to use marijuana for medical purposes say they need it to relieve severe pain.
That's from Kelly Paige, medical marijuana program manager for the Oregon Health Division, key witness today at an administrative hearing on proposed Hawaii procedures at the state Capitol. She's here courtesy of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii.
"We found that 67 percent were using medical marijuana to control severe pain," she said in an interview yesterday about Oregon's experience.
Sometimes physicians will note patients are victims of migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple back surgeries, she said. "It really runs the gamut of conditions that create severe pain. ... Then I would say my second largest group of patients are multiple sclerosis patients."
"I think about 10 percent were cancer and another 10 percent reported using it for HIV or AIDS."
She said she hopes she can get across how well the program works. Voters approved the Oregon plan in November 1998.
What's most important about her visit is meeting staff from the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Health to share Oregon's experience, she said. "I believe that a lot of states are modeling their laws on Oregon's law. I know that Hawaii, Maine and Colorado are very close."
Oregon set up the first statewide registry system.
"I'm happy to share the work we've done with other states that are coming along," she said.
There are nine such states now. They include California, Arizona, Washington,
Alaska and Nevada.