In the last few weeks, I reported on raids atKannabosm and the 45th Parallel. On Tuesday, the High Hopes Farm in Southern Oregon becomes the third target in an apparent crackdown on Oregon’s medical marijuana providers.
Federal agents and local and state police Tuesday morning descended on seven sites associated with Bowman’s High Hopes Farm, a medical marijuana enterprise in rural Jackson County serving more patients than any in the state. Authorities said the raids are part of a federal investigation into drug manufacturing and distribution.
Though medical marijuana is legal in Oregon, pot remains illegal under federal law.
Bowman, a longtime and outspoken fixture in Southern Oregon’s marijuana community, faces the prospect of federal drug charges but was not taken into custody. The government ordered earth-moving equipment onto the properties to remove his marijuana plants.
Bowman’s farm served approximately 200 medical marijuana patients all throughout Oregon, according to the Oregonian. Because his farm cultivated marijuana outdoors, patients were each given a year supply of marijuana at harvest time. With the raid and seizure of all the plants, many of Bowman’s patients are left wondering how they will now acquire their medical marijuana.
It is relevant to note that all three of these locations have been openly operating with a great deal of media attention for at least a full year, if not significantly longer. High Hopes Farm, for instance, not only had four Oregon legislators tour his farm almost a year ago, but he also invited the Oregonian in and openly discussed how he operates with them all. In addition, law enforcement officials used aerial photos of High Hopes Farm as a part of a slideshow shown at the legislature presented by Lt. Dingeman three years ago to illustrate the alleged “abuse” of the medical marijuana program in Oregon.
Yet, our society is supposed to accept that it took at least a full year of “investigating” these alleged “criminal” behaviors before they were ready to raid these locations. The fact that they delayed raids until just before a crucial election where marijuana legalization is a topic on the ballot here in Oregon should have Oregonians screaming at the waste of our limited law enforcement resources.
Even if you are not in favor of marijuana legalization – there is a ridiculous waste by law enforcement here that should infuriate you. If it took a year to “investigate” a person who openly publicized their marijuana operation – including details about the costs to patients and much more – then we clearly cannot count on these law enforcement officials to adequately address the black market marijuana where it is not openly discussed with the media and legislators. At the very least, this should call their competence into question.
On the other hand, if they have been holding on to these cases, with the full intent of pursuing them now, in order to “alter the public debate” as former DEA heads called on Eric Holder to do earlier this month, then we have to acknowledge that our law enforcement is abusing their authority for political gain. If these dispensaries and large marijuana gardens are truly a problem – it should again infuriate Oregonians that law enforcement simply “sat on this” until it was politically convenient for them, a rather clear demonstration that protecting our society is NOT the priority. In fact, using our taxpayer resources to undermine our democratic process instead of protecting our society seems far more problematic than growing marijuana for medical marijuana patients as allowed by state law.
Were there no “real criminals” for the drug enforcers to focus on instead? No meth being transported through Oregon, no marijuana growing on public lands? Instead, the worst threat Oregonians face is a few storefronts with a fixed address openly operating to provide medical marijuana to valid Oregon medical marijuana cardholders.
Since it is clearly not true that all other drug related crimes were “solved” – law enforcement needs to focus on what we pay them for. These raids only ensure we see a larger black market, morecrime, and most disturbing, our sick and disabled medical marijuana patients are being forced to go “to the street” for their medical marijuana. Oregonians voted that they should have the right to access medical marijuana and even the feds have said that they don’t intend to prevent patients from using it – but how dare anyone PROVIDE it to them!
In all three raids, no arrests have been made so far. The real purpose of these raids is not to prevent “criminal” activity, but instead to “alter the public debate.” Remember this when law enforcement officials are seen in the media claiming insufficient funds to deal with crime that actually matters to Oregonians.