|Graphic: Cannabis Fantastic
The U.S. Attorney for Oregon has served notice on all medical marijuana growers and dispensary operators, saying the federal government “will not allow” the sale of cannabis anywhere in Oregon.
U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton issued the warning not only to growers, but to landlords, reports Thom Jensen at KATU News
. Holton’s warning is part of what seems to be a federal campaign
to intimidate medical marijuana providers and patients nationwide in states that heve legalized medicinal cannabis.
“Knowingly financing a marijuana dispensary or allowing one to operate on your property also violates federal law and could subject financier and landlords to civil and criminal penalties,” Holton’s warning reads [PDF
According to KATU, there are “dozens” of cannabis growers’ markets across Oregon. But many patients and growers maintain that these are farmers’ markets or grower co-ops, not dispensaries, and that there is not a free exchange of money at these operations.
They also maintain that it is just another assault on the medical marijuana law passed by Oregon voters back in 1998.
Oregon medical marijuana patients who got cannabis at a strip mall in Portland said the facility is not a dispensary, but is a farmers’ market. They make a donation and for that donation they are given a playing card. They then give that card to a medical marijuana grower. They may get medical marijuana for the card.
Since there is no quid pro quo — no guarantee they will get marijuana for their money — patients and operators say they do not believe they are violating laws because they are not actually buying or selling cannabis.
Bill Elliott, a 65-year-old Vietnam vet, has been an Oregon medical marijuana cardholder for about three years. He manages the Cannabis Cafe in Portland and said he knows a lot of people who get their marijuana at the local cannabis farmers’ market.
“If we don’t have any clear-cut decisions or clear-cut guidelines about what they are defining as dispensaries and what they are defining in terms of what we define as a farmers market — yeah, we could find some gray areas that could cause us some problems,” Elliott said.
Elliott (no relation to the editor of Toke of the Town) said he would like guidance from his government, not threats for doing what he believes is his legal right as a resident of Oregon.
Madeline Martinez, the director of Oregon NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) said closing farmers’ markets and growers’ co-ops could force medical marijuana patients onto the street.
“They’re not allowed to try to find medical marijuana except on the black market,” Martinez said. “And so this type of behavior and law enforcement with the heavy hand is just pushing people out to the black market. Instead, what the government should do is try to capture that revenue and put it into our state coffers.”
Whether you call them dispensaries or farmers’ markets, patients and supporters agree that these facilities help to drive illegal black market dealers out of business, because they dealers often can’t compete with the prices and quality available at the markets.