Patients relieved by grow-your-own-pot reversal

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Coming to a storefront near you: medical marijuana retail establishments.

Oregon’s governor signed the bill into law Wednesday.

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A retail display at the “Human Collective II” dispensary off SW Barbur Boulevard in Portland, Ore., Aug. 14, 2013. (KOIN 6 News, Jonathan Simmons)

Marijuana is the green plant that medical-marijuana patients, like Joel Schaper, swear by. Schaper and other patients applaud the governor’s signing of the law that officially legalizes medical marijuana retail establishments.

“It makes me feel safe to acquire my medicine,” Schaper said.

He picks his medicine up at places like the Human Collective II in southwest Portland, one of the dispensaries raided by officers two years ago. The collective was at a different location, in Tigard, at the time. That’s when Washington County detectives raided their establishment, calling the business “illegal.”

“We don’t believe we broke the law in anyway,” said Don Morse with the Human Collective.

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A marijuana plant matures for the eventually sale of its buds at the “Human Collective II” dispensary off SW Barbur Boulevard in Portland, Ore., Aug. 14, 2013. (KOIN 6 News, Jonathan Simmons)

Schaper has long argued Oregon’s grow-your-own-pot rule for medical marijuana users was unrealistic. Other patients, such as John Fleming, agree.

After all, many medical marijuana patients would prefer to buy their pot from the controlled environment offered at a dispensary – rather than off what is essentially the “black market.”

You don’t have to worry about getting ripped off,” Fleming said.

Before Wednesday’s signing into law, the Human Collective and other medical marijuana establishments  were operating at their own risk. It was a legal gray area Morse, with the collective, calls “very stressful.”

Morse even helped with the legislation that now allows his dispensary to become mainstream.

“I think it’s important these places exist,” he said.

While opponents argue crime will only increase, patients say otherwise.

“If they were in my body and had the pain I had,” Fleming said, “…they could change their mind.”

The Oregon Health Authority will take charge of the medical marijuana program, including where retail establishments can open.

Oregon joins 12 other states that allow these dispensaries.

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