Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Oregon or Not?

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The question of  whether to have marijuana dispensaries in Oregon was addressed last Election where voters rejected a bid to have and regulate outlets that would sell medical marijuana to patients. As it was pointed out then, Measure 74 appeared to most voters as a “yes” or “no” decision if the state would allow the dispensaries or not. But as one of the sponsors and writers of the defeated bill, Attorney Lee Berger  pointed out at the time, Measure 74 was purely a regulation bill, since dispensaries were already opening up around the state in the face of a popular medical marijuana law that voters passed back in 1998.

On Friday, like many other states that have received their dance card from the Feds, Oregon’s top lawmakers along with the Federal Justice department delivered a direct warning that dispensaries in Oregon were doing business on borrowed time. The official letter that came out on Friday was signed by 33 of the 34 district attorneys warning business operators that selling marijuana for any purpose violated both Federal and Oregon law. 

It is still legal in Oregon to use medical marijuana in private, so private clubs that have been operating in Portland and other areas might be exempt if they continue to sell everything else in the club, but keep the marijuana free of charge. But in many private “cannabis clubs” in Oregon, selling and giving away medical marijuana is a slippery slope of interpretation. Some clubs are offering “Farmer’s markets” where growers are allowed to come in and staff a booth to sell their overstock. The club isn’t actually doing the selling here, but the purchase of medical marijuana may be going on in their location. The other grey area, is a “suggested donation”, with a measured amount of medical cannabis “given” to the donor – we are not allowed to call them a buyer. Maybe “philanthropist” would be a better term to use – sorta like having to refer to that bong you want to buy as a “ceramic novelty” while in the head shop.

US Attorney Dwight Holton, clearly exasperated with the new dispensaries that are opening in the state said today,

“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’.”  ,

District Attorney Walt Beglau told reporters that drug traffickers are hiding behind the state’s medical marijuana law statewide, and called the current state of the medical marijuana law in Oregon an “outlaw atmosphere” saying we better reign it in now before any kid in the state can walk into a storefront a buy marijuana. Either way, many dispensary owners were discussing the letter, and its implications no doubt, with the many Excellent Oregon Attorneys that have been the backbone of patients’ rights in the state.


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