Oregon: Medical Cannabis Advocate Accused of Selling Marijuana
By Steve Elliott
Medical marijuana activist Lori Duckworth, 48, and her husband, Leland Duckworth, 49, on Thursday were raided at the Southern Oregon Cannabis Community Center, a downtown Medford storefront where thousands of Oregon patients got cannabis. The Duckworths are accused of selling marijuana.
Duckworth, a mother and grandmother, became the latest high-profile figure in Oregon's cannabis community to be caught up in a "drug investigation," reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.
Oregon allows medical marijuana growers to recoup the costs of supplies and utilities when supplying cannabis to state-registered patients, but bans the "sale" of medical marijuana.
Raids on the Duckworths and others in southern Oregon came as state lawmakers were considering a bill that would legalize dispensaries. Lawmakers are also looking at a bill which would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of conditions that can qualify patients to be authorized by a physician for medical marijuana.
Federal agents last year raided sites associated with James Bowman, reputedly one of Oregon's largest medical marijuana producers. Washington County law enforcement last year shut down The Human Collective, a dispensary that served as one of Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's campaign stops.
The Duckworths' operation and three other medical marijuana outlets in the Medford area on Thursday were raided by a "drug task force" with local, state and federal law enforcement. Police also searched four properties, including the Duckworths' home, confiscating dried marijuana, growing cannabis plants, and weapons.
The Duckworths were arrested at the Cannabis Community Center; two other Medford men were also taken into custody as part of the investigaiton. All were held at the Jackson County Jail on marijuana-related charges.
Was Duckworth targeted for her marijuana activism ? Longtime cannabis advocate and Portland lawyer Leland Berger said that's a question worth asking. Berger also questioned the timing of the raids.
Friday's furlough for state employees and the Memorial Day weekend likely mean Duckworth and the other defendants will be in jail until Tuesday.
"The only real effect of the police raiding safe access points is that patients are denied access to medicine, and in my view that is a form of domestic terrorism," Berger said.
Medford Police Chief Tim George claimed there was no political agenda to the raids.
"These are state cases on the sale of marijuana, period," George claimed. "It doesn't matter who you are. If you do that, you run the risk of getting arrested."
Duckworth had told The Oregonian last year that she suspected her arrest was always a possibility. She and her husband said they have a lawyer on retainer and an emergency plan for their teenaged son in case they were taken into custody.
"We're normal people," Duckworth said. "We want safe communities. Our children and our grandchildren live here too."
Last year, the Duckworths said they grew far fewer plants than Oregon law allows, hoping not to attract the attention of federal law enforcement. "Don't poke the bear," Duckworth said.