Raids Shut Down Big Medical Marijuana Suppliers In Oregon
The420TimesStaff | Sep 21, 2012 | Comments 0
by JONATHAN J. COOPER, Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Hundreds of medical marijuana cardholders in eastern and southern Oregon will have to find a new way to get their pot after authorities raided two of the state’s best-known suppliers and shut them down.
Federal agents raided the High Hopes Farm in Jackson County this week, where James Bowman has said he grew marijuana for 200 medical marijuana cardholders. State authorities last week shut down 45th Parallel, a marijuana cooperative in Ontario that supplies the drug to people marijuana cards.
“James is a great guy,” said Casey Moore, a medical marijuana cardholder who has gotten his supply from Bowman for seven years. “He cared about his patients more than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Moore, who was paralyzed in a diving accident and uses marijuana to help with pain and muscle spasms, said he’s unsure where he’ll get his supply for the next year. He has enough marijuana left to last three weeks to a month, he said.
Bowman is widely considered the most prolific and outspoken grower in Oregon, but large grow sites like his have proliferated under a quirk in Oregon’s medical marijuana law. Instead of getting marijuana from dispensaries like they do in most other medical marijuana states, patients in Oregon must grow it themselves or designate another person to do it for them. Growers can have up to six mature plants per patient.
Bowman could not be reached Thursday. He told The Associated Press in April that he planned to plant about 400 plants this year for 200 patients. That’s just two plants per patient instead of the six he’s allowed, but enough to give each patient the 1.5 pounds they’re allowed by law. He said he wants to minimize the risk of coming under scrutiny by authorities wondering what he does with the excess.
“There are not a lot of ways for people to do this completely legal, so if they are not willing to tread in that gray area, this is not for them,” Bowman said in April.
He has not been charged with a crime. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland declined to comment on the raid at his farm. Federal law enforcement officials have said they’re not interested in going after people who are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws but will prosecute people using those laws as cover for illegal drug trafficking.
Southern Oregon and Northern California form a prime region for marijuana growing.
In Eastern Oregon, authorities last week raided and shut down on Ontario marijuana cooperative, which supplied the drug to medical marijuana patients.
Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe told The Argus Observer that several people would likely face charges related to drug racketeering and the possession, delivery and manufacture of marijuana. The sheriff said authorities began investigating after someone complained the 45th Parallel was selling marijuana at street prices. Oregon law allows marijuana suppliers to charge only for the cost of producing the drug.
Owner Bill Esbensen couldn’t immediately be reached on Thursday, but he told the Ontario newspaper he did nothing wrong.