Oregon’s Top Federal Prosecutor Takes Aim at Marijuana Dispensaries
On behalf of Steven Sherlag at Steven J. Sherlag, P.C.As of April 2012, there were 55,807 patients registered under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. Indeed, since the inception of the OMMA in 1998, the initiative has proven to be very popular.
While popular with Oregonians, perhaps the OMMA is a little too popular for prosecutors. According to the new U.S. Attorney for Oregon Amanda Marshall, many dispensaries operating within Oregon have been illicitly shipping and selling marijuana, a practice she intends to curb through aggressive enforcement. The pressure is mounting on dispensary operators throughout Oregon, and even those simply seeking to provide medical cannabis to cancer victims and other deserving patients may not be safe from drug distribution charges.
U.S. Attorney’s Office Claims Oregon-Grown Marijuana Headed for Sale Out Of State
Marijuana growers working within the confines of the OMMA are shielded from prosecution under state law. However, federal law still prohibits the possession and distribution of marijuana in any amount for any purpose, even for those whose doctors have recommended marijuana to provide relief from debilitating diseases.
Even though all medical marijuana dispensaries operate outside of federal law, former U.S. Attorneys in the state have not focused intensively on bringing down small scale grow operations that stay safely within the OMMA and where the exchange of money is very small and focused solely on the cost of production and not profit. As Amanda Marshall settles into her new role (she took office last October), that might be changing.
“Pounds and pounds and pounds of marijuana are being shipped out of Oregon, not to sick people needing cards but to drug dealers who are selling it, who are laundering money, who are evading taxes,” said Ms. Marshall in a recent interview with the Associated Press. Her office estimates that Oregon hosts at least 100 marijuana dispensaries, most of them in the Portland area.
Charged As the Operator of a Dispensary? You Need Legal Help
A flurry of media attention and criticism accompanied the announcement of Ms. Marshall’s apparent increasingly hard-line stance on Oregon marijuana grow operations. In response, she issued a statement, saying in part that her office has never applied its resources to prosecute “small scale users of marijuana, who are clearly and unambiguously compliant with Oregon law.” Yet, in nearly the same breath, her statement noted that “[u]nless and until” the U.S. Congress changes its stance on marijuana, she would uphold federal laws banning even small amounts of the drug, and that her office is considering civil and criminal action against both dispensaries that operate at a profit and the landlords who harbor them.
Mixed message? Some Oregonians wouldn’t even call it that, and see it more as an all-out campaign against marijuana dispensaries. If you are involved in a marijuana grow operation, even a slight deviation from OMMA standards could bring federal scrutiny and serious criminal liability; the freedom of growers across the state may be at stake. If you are a cultivator of cannabis, it is important to speak to an experienced marijuana lawyer as soon as you become aware of pending charges.