TALENT, Ore. – As Oregon voters prepare for recreational marijuana on the ballot, dispensary owners say patients already benefiting from the medical program could have a lot to gain.
The ballot initiative, led by New Approach Oregon, calls for the medical marijuana system to be left intact, and spared from the same high taxes applied to recreational pot.
But dispensary owners say many patients who would qualify for OMMP cards are still holding back.
They say recreational pot would help by reducing the stigma on marijuana, lowering the chance that employers would punish medical marijuana use, and open the door for broader insurance coverage.
“I think that will bring a lot of people who are leery of it and even qualify under the current system but don’t want to be stigmatized as having a medical need that’s out of the norm or that insurance won’t cover it,” said Michael Monarch, owner of Green Valley Welness in Talent. “Everyone’s asking us, ‘do you think insurance will cover it?’”
Right now patients looking to get on the OMMP system can pay upwards of $375 to get a card.
Monarch says a recreational market can also help them connect patients who can’t afford marijuana with growers who are willing to help.
Recreational marijuana will appear on the November ballot, assuming the signatures on the ballot measure are verified.