The President of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association openly criticized the state’s medical marijuana program this week. Influential Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin characterized the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) as “out of control” because the vast majority (90%) of legal medi-pot cardholders utilizes medicinal cannabis to treat pain and not for cancer and glaucoma as Sheriff Bergin alleges was the intention of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA), passed by state voters in 1998.

However, a simple examination of the OMMA rules online establishes that “severe pain” is regarded as a “debilitating medical condition,” along with HIV, AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and even persistent muscle spasms. All can be legally treated with medical marijuana in Oregon.  

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Sheriff Bergin also sarcastically suggested that Oregon must be three times sicker than California. However, someone with pain from an accident could be theoretically suffering far more physically than a cancer patient; such medical matters are much too unique and subjective for law enforcement officials to be deciding and are best left to medical professionals.

It could be that Sheriff Bergin’s caustic comments were intended to slow down the explosion in medical marijuana patients in Oregon – their numbers swelling to over 50,000 at last count. 

Though Oregon voters rejected establishing dispensaries last November, medi-pot clinics do operate openly in what many describe as a gray area; Sheriff Bergin issued cease-and-desist orders to two such medi-pot clubs earlier this summer. And while there are potential abuses of OMMP, such as the legality of the aforementioned clinics and no third-party oversight to determine if caregiver cultivators are growing more than the legal limit of 96 ounces, medical pot patient activist Madeline Martinez told KATU-TV that she and her group would like to reach out to law enforcement to clearly define how OMMP should be properly implemented. Sheriff Bergin has yet to respond.