Sunday December 8, 2013
Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Receive 'Guidance' Letter from the FedsBonnie King Salem-News.com
The U.S. Attorney, District Attorneys, Sheriffs and Police Chiefs serve notice that selling marijuana will not be tolerated, even to the sick.
(SALEM, Ore.) - The wariness of many Oregon medical marijuana patients was validated Friday, when local MMJ dispensaries received a direct warning from the Federal Government and Oregon's top lawmakers.
In some areas, there have been privately run medical dispensaries...doing business on borrowed time. Without the affirmation from voters last fall, it looks like "dispensaries" may not have a leg to stand on. Or do they?
It is legal to use medical marijuana in private, and so there are very successful private clubs in Oregon that have been operating with little to no disruption.
That's because they don't sell. They are only using Medicinal Marijuana in compliance with Oregon OMMP Law (ORS 475.304(7)): "Any donations requested are only compensation for nutrients, electricity costs, travel expenses, and other factors involved in the process of producing and delivering medical marijuana."
The official letter received Friday was signed by 33 out of 34 district attorneys and said again that selling marijuana for any purpose -- including medical purposes – violates both Federal and Oregon law. So, nothing’s changed.
Well, actually some things have- namely, the times. Many years ago, the use of marijuana recreationally or otherwise was of little discussion. Not that people weren’t aware of marijuana, they just didn’t care. Now that we have endured thirty years of enforced prohibition in Oregon, they would like the citizenry of our fair state to be absolutely clear: individuals and businesses that conduct sales of marijuana face the risk of prosecution, civil enforcement action, and seizure of assets.
Fear is an excellent motivator- but unnecessary.
Back when reefer madness was in full swing, that kind of extreme punishment was supported, understood, and not questioned. With the evolution of the technological age however, came communication.
Through communication, came awareness.
Suddenly, the very citizens that were previously so easy to convince started thinking for themselves, and realized that there is little sense in cannabis prohibition. Still, it has become such a complicated subject and with so many having so much to lose (yes, money), the root of the problem has not been solved.
In truth, there is a very simple solution. They just don’t like it: END PROHIBITION.
United States Attorney Dwight C. Holton said, clearly exasperated, “The breathtaking surge in manufacture and distribution of marijuana in Oregon is putting marijuana in the hands of more and more healthy kids -- and dispensaries are fueling this crisis. We are confident that responsible landlords and property owners will remove the operators of illegal dispensaries and ‘cannabis clubs’.”
It is not impossible that there are irresponsible business owners out there, but it is hard to imagine that anyone in that capacity is marketing to children. Though it is unfortunate that adults do not have access to marijuana, medicinal or not, legal medical marijuana patients have too much to lose to sell to kids. But don’t let that fool you. If teens want to smoke weed, they will buy it on the street regardless of the availability of medical marijuana.
Without marijuana dispensaries serving the patients of Oregon, many legal adults DO turn to the black market. They don’t want to, but they have no choice, and they know of no other way to handle it. Supply and demand is a fact, and everyone cannot grow their own medicine. These patients are not addicted to narcotics, they are not alcoholics, they are not criminals; instead they are using the healthiest medicine available for their afflictions, and yet they are demeaned by our own society.
District Attorney Walt Beglau says that Oregon District Attorneys are "seeing the problem statewide: Drug traffickers are hiding behind the medical marijuana law to protect their sham operations. We have to rein in this outlaw atmosphere before any kid can walk into a storefront on Main Street in any town in Oregon and buy marijuana illegally."
That statement directly implies that if there are dispensaries, they will sell to kids, albeit illegally. Really?
As children are the topic of concern, it is worthwhile to discern the highest risk to them, which creates a conflict with making marijuana such an important target.
In Oregon, kids cannot walk into a "storefront on Main Street" and buy booze, so why could they buy marijuana in the same store? Alcohol is only legal to buy as an adult. Still, minors with intent always figure out some clever way to get access to booze.
We can count on at least eight teenagers DYING EVERY DAY due to alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, because alcohol is the morally-condoned government-approved method of getting high. Their parents do it, their teachers do it, and law enforcement does it. Most everybody gets drunk, sadly.
Because adults selfishlessly enjoy drinking alcohol, they don’t want anything to change on that horizon. Even though it kills children every single day, of every single month, of every single year. Instead, let’s talk about pot. It’s a much safer subject.
So safe in fact, that it does not pose any risk to society whatsoever. While eight kids died from drinking today, and will tomorrow, NONE will die from marijuana use.
The release sent to the press said that the notice to canna-businesses "is in keeping with the Department of Justice guidance to federal prosecutors and agents in States that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana."
With that, they are drawing attention to what they believe is the Department‘s "balanced approach", which they say focuses the limited federal resources on drug traffickers and organizations as opposed to individuals with serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law.
Last year, over 800,000 Americans were arrested for cannabis related crimes, most for simple possession, many were patients. While Measure 74, Oregon's dispensary bill, did not pass with only 43% of the vote last November, current surveys reflect that over 50% of Americans favor the end of marijuana prohibition. At this point in time, the scales of justice do not appear to be in balance.
The "guidance" letter is specific with its message, that federal officials will not tolerate those who “hide behind claims of compliance with state laws to mask activity that is clearly illegal”.
It was not a "cease & desist" letter, but may as well have been, and there were "closed" signs awaiting patients the next day.
Monday will mean meetings with attorneys and accountants and such for the would-be dispensaries across the state and the future of their businesses remains to be seen.
“Oregon and Federal law make it illegal to sell marijuana – period, end of story,” said United States Attorney Dwight C. Holton.
That’s just the kind of closed-minded, limited communication ability that got us into this mess. End of story.
Publisher Bonnie King has been with Salem-News.com since August '04. Bonnie has a wide ranging media background and in her career she has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and NIE/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers. View articles written by Bonnie King
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