July 29th, 2010 | by Hadley Malcolm News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Cops and Courts

Medical-Marijuana Activists Protest Over Oregonian Editorial

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Medical marijuana patients, caregivers, growers, and activists staged an upbeat gathering outside The Oregonian this morning to protest an editorial the daily ran in last Sunday's paper calling an upcoming medical marijuana ballot measure a “charade.”

About 30 people with bright signs, at some points shouting, “Stop the lies, tell the truth,” mingled outside the paper's downtown office while encouraging passing drivers to honk their horns in support. (More than a few drivers honked).

Oregon Green Free, a prominent medical marijuana organization, took offense to the Sunday editorial's denouncing of the initiative as well as its quotation marks around words like “patient” and “medicine.” The group decided to organize a protest in an effort to school The O on marijuana's legitimate medicinal purposes.

“It's not a charade or a scam,” says John Sajo, petitioner for the medical marijuana measure and executive director of Voter Power. “Our goal is to help educate The Oregonian that marijuana is medicine and people need access to it.”

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The initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot calls for regulated medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state.

Marsha Deir, a grower who's also on Oregon Green Free's board of directors, playfully danced in the street with a sign that said “Marijuana is medicine not ‘medicine'” and passed out pot-enhanced chocolate chip cookies to patients at the protest.

“I've seen the benefit,” Deir said. “A lot of my family has died from cancer.”

Elvy Musikka is a patient who says her glaucoma and a leg injury would be “disabling completely without marijuana.”

“This is a service we have desperately needed in Oregon for a long time,” Musikka said of the initiative's proposed dispensaries.

Sajo and Jim Klahr, CEO of Oregon Green Free, spoke with Oregonian editorial page editor Bob Caldwell when he happened to walk through the protest on his way back from getting coffee.

“They're entitled to protest,” Caldwell said. “It's a form of dialogue.”

When some protesters started arguing with Caldwell about the editorial, he reaffirmed the paper's position. “We would rather have the discussion about legalizing marijuana generally rather than another round of ultimately dishonest debate,” he said.

Klahr said he thought the 30 or so people who showed up represented at least 1,000 other sick people. “It seems like a pretty good turnout,” he said, adding that organizers hope for the opportunity to speak with the paper's entire editorial board. “That's really our goal - to get The Oregonian to admit to the truth and talk to patients instead of cops and robbers.”

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