PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Alex Pavich is the last person you’d expect to be on the fence about marijuana legalization.
The 39-year-old is a longtime marijuana consumer, using it to treat old injuries and calm his nerves. Pavich and his girlfriend, Aligra Rainy, 28, opened one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in Portland, helping to launch what is now a regulated industry in Oregon. Today their shop, Collective Awakenings, is among the more well-known medical marijuana retailers in the state and bustles with patients.
But Pavich isn’t sure whether he’ll vote for Initiative 91. The measure on November’s ballot would open the door to recreational marijuana in Oregon and make the state one of only three in the U.S. to allow anyone over 21 to possess pot.
Pavich, a medical marijuana grower, worries recreational pot will shift the focus from patients to profit.
“We are in the 21st century gold rush,” he said. “I see a lot of dollar signs in people’s eyes.”
Medical and recreational marijuana users may seem like natural allies in the campaign for legalized pot, but Pavich’s ambivalence underscores mixed feelings and even misgivings among members of the medical cannabis community.
Some worry recreational marijuana will overshadow and sideline the state’s medical marijuana program. They worry small-scale medical marijuana growers who focus on producing high-quality cannabis for the chronically ill will be squeezed out of the market. They fear if recreational pot turns into a money-maker for the state, lawmakers may take a hard look at medical marijuana’s relevance.
Then there’s the bottom line concern about more competition.
“The growers like the status quo,” said …read more