20 years ago, while living in Southern California, Jim Greig started showing symptoms of a severe form of genetic rheumatoid arthritis that today has left him bed ridden and in constant pain. Now at age sixty, his niece serves as his live-in caretaker.
Inside a small two-bedroom apartment in West Eugene, Greig copes with the symptoms of a condition that has caused knotting in the joints of his entire body, and depleted almost all of his muscle mass. His small twisted legs, covered by a blanket, act as painful reminders of his once active life.
Jim Greig uses medical marijuana as a pain killer and to help widen the range of motion in his joints.
Not restrained by his debilitating condition, Greig is an outspoken activist for the Oregon cannabis movement, and by making his condition public and working diligently with petitioners across the state, he is now one of the biggest figures involved in Initiative 28. If passed, I-28 would allow for medical marijuana dispensaries in the state of Oregon, and would expand the current medical marijuana law that requires patients to grow their own medicine.
Initiative 28 is similar to legislation already passed in California and Colorado, and would expand the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act passed in 1998 by setting up small stores where patients can purchase marijuana. Following the inception of the OMMA, almost 23,000 patients have signed up for the program that allows for the medicinal use of cannabis.
Upon becoming a patient on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, Greig spent months trying to find someone to grow marijuana for him, and he knows all too well the efforts that patients go through in order to get their medicine.“There’s a severe shortage of growers,” says Grieg from the hospital bed in his modestly sized room. “It’s a labor of love. You’re asking someone to dedicate a room in their house, thousands of dollars, and hundreds of hours a month for free.”
Many patients on the program are finding it difficult to get marijuana because of the work involved, and they are turning to illegal dealers. “A lot of card holders are still buying their pot on the black market,” Greig points out. “What other thing is authorized, but you have to grow your own?”
Greig and his fellow petitioners point out that state run dispensaries would help to eliminate the criminal element involved with medical marijuana by taking money out of the hands of dealers and reinvest profits back into the state general fund.
As Initiative 28 nears its goal of more that 80,000 signatures, Greig works to create public awareness for medical marijuana. By calling local legislators, talking with petitioners and spending time emailing voters, Jim Greig accomplishes more for his cause than many of his able-bodied associates.