Compassion Organizer Urges Medical Marijuana Expansion

Anti-war paraphernalia, white flags and brightly colored translucent pictures of faeries decorate the trailer of Reverend William Winget in the Shamrock Trailer Park in Eugene. “Over there is where Pre used to live,” points out Winget, referring to Oregon track legend Steve Prefontaine’s old place of residence.

The inside of his trailer looks like it hasn’t been touched in forty years. Gray shag carpet covers the floor, and dark walnut veneer paneling helps guide the eyes to a shelf where an array of marijuana pipes rest—the focal point of the room.

Winget is a user of medicinal marijuana, and founder of the Church of the Caring: a compassion group that uses marijuana to treat patients who are coping with chronic pain and terminal illness.

Reverend Winget is a proponent of a new ballot initiative (Initiative 28) that would add a regulated supply system of dispensaries and producers to the current medical marijuana law that requires patients to grow their own medicine.

Winget has been helping patients who are unable to get marijuana through his services for years, and is pushing for Initiative 28, so patients on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program can get instant access by not having to wait for the marijuana to grow. “When you first get your card it can take you three months or longer before you get your first medicine,” he explains.

This is not the first time that legislation of this kind has been proposed in Oregon. In 2003, ballot measure 33 called for a supply system of marijuana, but failed to pass with voters because it mandated that all counties without a dispensary use state funds to set one up within 6 months. Initiative 28 does not have the same requirements.

Winget’s provides marijuana to terminal patients with cancer who will die between the time they get their cards and when they can actually get marijuana. “People say ‘you can’t tell me there are people who are on medical marijuana who are that close to dying.’ There are,” he pleads.

Now with over 75,000 signatures, Initiative 28 is nearing its goal of close to 82,762 signatures, and could be on the Oregon ballot this November.

“It’s about being a person who decides that service is the most important aspect of our lives,” says Reverend Winget of his work. For the people he deals with he is a hero. “It doesn’t take away the pain, but it helps to deal with it. It helps it to be okay.”

Reverend William Winget relaxes at his place of worship in East Eugene.


About evan1983

Evan Sernoffsky is a freelance journalist in Sacramento, California.
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