Collective Awakenings Portland, OR

What is Safe Access?

Safe access is a term that is used to describe a safe environment in which to gain access to something. For medical marijuana patients safe access is a necessity and should be considered a right. People who use cannabis medicinally have chosen to do so because they have found the relief they have been searching for in a plant based medicine, experiencing a significant increase in quality of life. Patients suffering from a range of debilitating conditions are given permission by the state to use, grow and possess cannabis in limited amounts.

A dispensary is a place where medical cannabis is dispensed to the patient. These establishments are called safe access points because a patient is not forced to seek their medicine on the volatile black market. There are thousands of patients that are partially to fully disabled, and the thought of meeting a dealer in an alley, car or basement is highly unattractive and sometimes dangerous. The war on drugs and the prohibition of cannabis created a very stable and thriving black market for not only marijuana but other more dangerous substances; Dangerous substances usually equals dangerous people which often means a dangerous situation.

Community members are often times uncomfortable with the thought of marijuana, let alone legal marijuana, many are opposed to it. This is because of a long standing stigma surrounding the Cannabis plant. We have all been taught from a young age that Cannabis is bad, but what if that was not exactly accurate?

Thanks to the rise in social media and global communication there are thousands of stories circulating about people treating and sometimes curing severe conditions by using cannabis therapeutically. For two decades adults everywhere have found relief. It is estimated that there are as many as 100 million cannabis users in the US that are open about their consumption. This is not accounting for those who are more discreet and do not share. The patients who live in medical marijuana states rely on safe access points for their prescriptions.

In the past two years there has been an interesting and controversial conversation started by the parents in our country. Droves of parents have turned to medical marijuana to treat their suffering children after being inspired by a few outspoken families about their experiences. The results have been stunning. Remissions from childhood cancer, cessation in severe epilepsy, recovery from autism and more have been reported, with more cases appearing every day. The taboo has been broken and the discussion has been started. Parents rely on safe access points for their child’s medical marijuana.

Oregon is a state that has allowed medicinal cannabis to qualifying patients since 1998 after passage of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (ORS 475.300-ORS475.346). As of 2014 there are 60,516 patients according to the Oregon Health Authority.  As of august 14, 2013 OregonGovernor John Kitzhaber (D) signed into law HB 3460 which made dispensaries in Oregon legal. This was heralded as a victory for patients all over the state because they now had the right to legal safe access. Then these hopes were smothered as Senate Bill 1531– allowing for community bans of dispensaries began circulating the House and Senate. Now patients and families are left fearing the loss of their newly given rights and experiencing a reinstatement of the public and legal persecution they faced before.

The worry is real because City Councils and County Boards across the state are racing to pass moratoriums against dispensaries before they forfeit the opportunity to on May 1, 2014. Medical Cannabis supporters and consumers do not understand why elected officials are taking a stance against the governor, the law and the people?

When someone visits their doctor and is prescribed a medicine, ranging from antibiotics to narcotics they are able to visit one of the large pharmacies in their city and safely gain access to their medicine. However when someone is prescribed medicinal marijuana it seems they are expected to seek their medicine on the street.

Why are medical cannabis users not being afforded the same decency, rights and safe accessibility as the rest of the populace?
            Please do not support your local moratoriums, they are discriminatory and harmful.