Medical marijuana a low priority, Oregon's new U.S. Attorney says
Drug trafficking more dangerous, she says
PORTLAND— The proliferation of dispensary-style medical marijuana operations in Oregon concerns the state’s new U.S. Attorney, but she said she’s unwilling to devote much time or money to prosecuting a criminal activity that’s low on her list of priorities.
U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall said the number of dispensaries in Oregon has been growing. Her office estimates the state hosts at least 100, most of which are in the Portland metro area.
In 2010, Marshall’s predecessor joined his counterparts in other medical marijuana states by sending warning letters to operations it felt were the most egregious offenders of the state’s medical marijuana law, threatening them — or their landlords — with civil asset forfeiture if they didn’t close shop.
The problem, Marshall said, is that Oregon’s medical marijuana law was passed without any enforcement power or extra money for local agencies to crack down on the worst actors.
“I don’t know that the law itself is the problem, so much as the lack of oversight in terms of the medical marijuana grows and distribution,” Marshall said Friday. “When you look at it, you’ve (had) a handful of prosecutions and you’ve got over 100 dispensaries, there’s no oversight.
“They passed this law, and there’s no additional resources or funding mechanisms for law enforcement.”
Medical marijuana took center stage in Oregon politics last week when it emerged as a flashpoint in the Democratic primary for state attorney general.
Former interim U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton had criticized the state program as a ”train wreck,” mobilizing marijuana advocates to lobby against him. It’s impossible to tell whether the issue played a role in Holton’s loss to retired judge Ellen Rosenblum, but it accounted for at least one-quarter of Rosenblum’s fundraising.
Marshall said she wouldn’t use the words ”train wreck” to describe Oregon’s law.
“I’m not here to say this law is good or bad or to suggest future legislation or future policy direction,“ said Marshall, who took office in October. ”People say, ‘You’re the U.S. attorney, are you going to go after medical marijuana?’ No I’m not. I don’t care about medical marijuana.“