Public Comment – 1b Vaccine Group
Hello Mr. Dunn and Members of the Vaccine Advisory Committee:
On behalf of Gleam Law, PLLC and the wonderful group of people and businesses we represent within Oregon’s cannabis industry, I respectfully request that you consider prioritizing employees of Oregon’s cannabis businesses for the Phase 1b rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination.
While for many the term “Oregon cannabis” brings to mind the state’s seemingly endless supply of recreational cannabis dispensaries beautifully decorated and filled with every iteration of cannabis those interested and 21 and over could dream of, for those suffering from an expansive range of medical conditions “Oregon cannabis” means relief. Oregon was among one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 1998, and today Oregon cannabis brings relief to a larger, more diverse group of patients than ever before.
Now, as recreational cannabis businesses serve Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patients in addition to Oregon’s recreational cannabis users, Oregon’s cannabis industry and those working in Oregon’s recreational cannabis businesses play an impactful and irreplaceable role in providing medicine and relief to countless Oregonians who suffer from a strikingly diverse myriad of medical conditions, a few among them being epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, migraines, and cancer. Given the wide breadth of patients who receive their medicine from Oregon cannabis retailers, it is evident that the essential workers who serve these patients should be considered a priority in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and their many immuno-compromised patients from the virus, and for this reason I, again, ask that you consider vaccinating Oregon cannabis business employees in Phase 1b as you are with many of the state’s other healthcare-adjacent organizations.
As a personal anecdote, I suffer from debilitating migraines semi-regularly to the point where I am in immense pain and cannot see or speak properly when I am in the throes of my most intense iteration of a migraine. Prior to my introduction to cannabis, I saw a number of neurologists and was prescribed and tried just about every prescription migraine medicine available. Aside from one prescription option, which was prohibitively expensive, none of the prescription pharmaceuticals offered any meaningful relief for my migraines. Then came the relative normalization of cannabis as a treatment for migraines and it was like I found the missing piece of the puzzle that I had dropped under the table years before. Cannabis is the only relief for my migraines, and while my migraines seem very severe to me personally, relative to so many other patients who receive relief from Oregon cannabis, my migraines are a minor ailment. Oregon’s cannabis businesses through the OMMP program and via retail sales offer otherwise unavailable relief to myself and countless Oregonians who suffer from far more severe, chronic, and life altering medical conditions than my own.
As many other letters you receive will likely state, Oregon cannabis businesses are not eligible to receive relief under Business Oregon’s Covid-19 Relief Grants, the CARES Act, nor PPP loans, as such protecting the essential workers that serve on the frontlines of these businesses day in and day out is paramount to keeping these business open and afloat during these difficult economic times so that the patients that count on them can continue to receive their medicine.
I ask that you prioritize the immunization of Oregon’s recreational cannabis workers for the health and safety of the individuals themselves, the patients they serve, and Oregon.
I will close with the words of Dolly Parton, arguably America’s most publicly celebrated benefactor of the COVID-19 vaccine, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” These past ten months have been one heck of a rainstorm for Oregon, its businesses, and each and every person who has the pleasure of calling it “home” — I thank you all for working diligently towards reaching the rainbow and appreciate how difficult it is to make this decision.