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Federal Leo Crackdown On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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Federal, state law enforcement officials to crack down on marijuana dispensariesPublished: Friday, June 03, 2011, 4:14 PM Updated: Friday, June 03, 2011, 6:12 PM By Stuart Tomlinson, The Oregonian


Federal and state law enforcement officials put the owners of medical marijuana dispensaries on notice today, warning them that selling marijuana for any purpose, including medical use, was against both federal and state law.

“Are we supposed to believe that people go to places like “Wake N Bake” to get medicine?” said U.S. Attorney, Dwight C. Holton. “ Oregonians, who adopted a medical marijuana law in good faith, deserve an answer — are these places where people go to get medicine, or are these just drug dealers hiding behind the medical marijuana law? ”


Holton issued a joint statement today along with 33 Oregon district attorneys, Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, president of the Oregon State Sheriff‟s Association; and Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda, president of the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police.

The officials also warned people who knowingly financed a marijuana dispensary or allowed one “to operate on your property also violates federal law and could subject financiers and landlords to civil and criminal penalties–including forfeiture of any assets used in support of the criminal enterprise.”


View full size Torsten Kjellstrand/The OregonianJars containing donated marijuana behind the bar of Cannabis Cafe in North Portland in November 2009.The statement came out the day after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. Department of Justice would soon clarify its position on medical marijuana.

“We’re going to bring clarity so that people understand what this policy means and how this policy will be implemented,” Holder said in statement during a visit to Rhode Island where two men with state-issued marijuana licenses were arrested on drug charges.

Holton said numerous dispensaries in the state are openly selling marijuana, going so far as to offer coupons for free or discounted pot, despite the defeat last November of ballot Measure No. 74.

“Oregon and Federal law make it illegal to sell marijuana–period, end of story,” Holton said.

Madeline Martinez, sole proprietor of the Cannabis Cafe in North Portland, said her business is merely a cafe where licensed medical marijuana users can meet, smoke a joint or use a vaporizer, but where no marijuana is sold.

“There are no dispensaries in Oregon, but I realize that we are within a realm that may not be legal,’’ she said.

“Drug traffickers are hiding behind the medical marijuana law to protect their sham operations,” said Marion County District Attorney, Walk Beglau. “We have to rein in this outlaw atmosphere before any kid can walk into a storefront on Main Street in any town in Oregon and buy marijuana illegally.”

Beglau, president of the Oregon District Attorneys Association, called the situation "a growing crisis we need to meet head on.”

One signature not on the the statement issued today was that of Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk.

In a letter to Holton, Schrunk said that “under present circumstances, my understanding of the investigative priorities of local police agencies is that combating this cannot be termed a critical priority when balanced against others.”

Paul Loney, an defense attorney who’s represented clients that have run afoul of Oregon’s medical marijuana law, said law enforcement should crack down on illegal growers growing pot on federal lands and selling pot to customers around the country.

“It’s reefer madness rhetoric,” Loney said of the statement issued today. “There are no medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon, there are private clubs where people can meet and smoke, and reimburse their growers for the supplies they used to grow the marijuana.”

Loney said Oregon’s medical marijuana program was approved by voters, and that it was time for the Oregon legislature “to come up with a regulated plan” to deal with the issue.

--The Associated Press contributed to this report.

--Stuart Tomlinson

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