What was I writing just below about “give us an inch, we’ll take a mile?”
The federal government has, for the most part, left Oregon alone when it comes to medical marijuana. We surmise that has a lot to do with the law we passed that failed to create any sort of large-scale distribution system – no dispensaries – and left the cultivation of marijuana to personally-selected growers who could only work for reimbursements of expenses, not labor and profit.
As our system continued with no dispensaries, the initial 3 ounces and 7 plants we wrote into the law became very problematic. Access for patients was spotty at best because they couldn’t maintain any supply in reserve in case a harvest went bad or a grower bailed out. So we humbly lobbied to get the current limits raised to 24 ounces and 24 plants per patient, explaining how so many who used tinctures or edibles would need so much more cannabis and how more plants would forestall problems with bad harvests.
That was 2005. Fast-forward to today, where lawmakers and law enforcement have been crying for years about “abuse” and “diversion” of medical marijuana to the illegal market. Now, in the feds’ first prosecution against Oregon medical growers, the state legislature has all the ammunition they need to set about reducing limits and restricting access in the forthcoming legislative session:
DEA agents photographed 455 large marijuana plants growing at the site and raided the farm on Oct. 5. Agents seized the plants and found 2,000 pounds of semi-dry marijuana in a barn, the affidavit states. Afterward, agents dried the marijuana and found that it weighed 1,022 pounds, the court document says.
The OMMP records for the farm showed the site was granted 76 patients, allowing for 114 pounds.
Agents then moved on to a garden tended by associates of Simmons. This garden was in the 3200 block of Dark Hollow Road outside Medford and contained 64 marijuana plants.
Agents found 2,000 pounds of recently harvested buds in an outbuilding and in the back of a 20-foot Mitsubishi box truck, the affidavit says. Also seized at the Dark Hollow Road property was a money-counting machine, video surveillance equipment and packaging material, it says.
OMMP records show the farm was approved for nine patients, allowing for 13.5 pounds of marijuana, the affidavit says.
[One grower] said he was offered 20 percent of the garden’s “profits” by [the owners] for maintaining the plants, the affidavit states.
[Another grower was tending another] property surrounded by 113 large plants, the affidavit states. OMMP records showed the garden exceeded what was allowed under the act.
A handwritten contract between the two [showed one owner would pay the grower] $50,000 for his efforts, court documents show.
A search of [the owner's] home in Edgewood, Wash., showed a ledger which contained the names “JJ,” “Cliff” and “Dad”; under each name were dollar amounts ranging from $1,000 to $62,420, the affidavit states.
Agents dug into [the owner's] bank accounts and found several large cash and check deposits made between October 2010 and October 2011. The deposits range from $3,000 to $44,500, court documents show. The DEA believes these deposits are proceeds from illegal marijuana sales.
So long as there are legal medical markets and illegal recreational markets, this result is inevitable. The black market will always affect the legal market so long as the black market serves ten times the customers. All cannabis consumers, recreational and medical, rallied behind medical marijuana in 1998 because it was the only thing that could pass. Now all cannabis consumers, recreational and medical, need to join forces behind legalization of marijuana in 2012 because it is the only thing that can last. The only direction medical marijuana can go now is toward more restrictions to keep the recreational “abuse” at bay until it is pharmaceuticalized and the patients can finally be segregated from the “criminals”.