OREGON: The final arguments have been heard in the last of three prosecutions that targeted medical marijuana dispensaries in northern, southern and eastern Oregon. In the end, after tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent, hundreds of police and prosecutor hours wasted, dozens of felony drug charges, and five families’ lives devastated, the worst sentence handed out to the “drug kingpins” was 140 days in jail.
The three cases all involve friends of mine in the Oregon marijuana movement. Here in Portland, Sarah Bennett and Don Morse were charged with multiple felonies over their operation of The Human Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary in Washington County. This was before Oregon’s legislature had passed HB3460, the bill that legalized and regulated our medical marijuana dispensary system.
While multiple outlets opened up all around Oregon, especially in pot-loving Portland, most were operating with a sly wink-and-a-nudge around the medical marijuana laws’ allowances for patient-to-grower reimbursements for supplies and utilities, which, surprisingly enough, always seemed to equal $10 per gram. The Human Collective, on the other hand, created a strict system of accounting to ensure they were following the incomplete law the best they could. In fact, now-Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and other elected officials toured the facility, citing it as a model of how regulated medical marijuana dispensaries could operate.