Lori Duckworth, her husband Lee, and several other Oregonians were subjected to frightening paramilitary raids on Thursday. They were handcuffed, their property ransacked and they were thrown in jail for providing medicine to patients.
Their alleged crime is that they recouped too much reimbursement for the medical cannabis they provided. State and federal laws ban the sale of the drug. Oregon allows medical marijuana growers to recoup the costs of supplies and utilities when providing the drug to state-registered patients. Lori sits in a jail cell because she has provided medicine to Oregon medical marijuana patients that can legally posses up to 24 ounces of medical cannabis.
A Oregon woman, whose cries for help on a 911 call might as well have fallen on deaf ears, suffered a horrible attack because no law enforcement officer could come to her aid. We can only hope she is doing well and healing from this heinous crime.
While these two matters seem unrelated, they are completely intertwined and help show the society we live in. These scenarios give us a picture of where we are headed if we don’t better prioritize our resources.
What exactly constitutes supplies and utilities isn’t defined? The electric and water bill are certainly included in utilities. Soil and nutrients are certainly supplies. What about the rent or mortgage payment?
What about security precautions to make sure that patients’ medicine isn’t stolen?
How does law enforcement know how much electricity went into an indoor garden or how much soil as purchased for an outdoor crop? Why hasn’t law enforcement provided some guidance about what they consider proper reimbursement?
Do law enforcement agencies want clear rules and regulations or do they prefer a gray area, allowing them to arrest first and ask questions later?
In raids across Oregon yesterday, over 70 law enforcement officers were used. City, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies assisted in these raids including Homeland Security, the FBI and the US Marshall’s Service. An Oregon agency assisting in these raids include law enforcement officers from Josephine County.
Why is Josephine County of significance? Because of a woman who called 911 because she was about to be brutally attacked in Josephine County and there wasn’t a law enforcement officer on the job that could help her.
On August 18, 2012, a Oregon woman in Josephine County called 911 to report that her ex-boyfriend, a man who had previously assaulted her, was trying to break into her home and attack her. The woman’s ordeal, and the response she got from the 911 dispatcher, are horrible.
From Oregon Public Broadcasting:
Woman: “My ex-boyfriend is trying to break into my house. I’m not letting him in but he’s like, tried to break down the door and he’s tried to break into one of the windows”
State police tape: “Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there. You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”
According to police records, a few minutes later Michael Bellah used a piece of metal to pry open the woman’s front door. He choked her, and sexually assaulted her. Later that day he was arrested by the State Police.
Can you imagine? You or a loved one calling 911 because of an impending attack and being told that there isn’t “anybody to send out there” and “can you ask him to go away?” If only she would have reported that a medical marijuana grower was about to give marijuana to a state-registered patient in exchange for money that arguably could be construed to be more than just the supplies and utilities it cost to grow the marijuana.
Then, maybe more than 70 officers, including the FBI and Homeland Security could come to her aid.
Obviously, more dangerous people on the streets than Lori Duckworth and surely there are a few unsolved rapes, burglaries, kidnappings and murders. Yet more than 70 officers have the time and resources to arrest people for providing marijuana to patients.
Marijuana that the patients can legally have, has been approved by their doctor and cannot cause a fatal overdose. If when a woman calls the police, hoping that someone, anyone can help prevent an impending assault and rape, there is no one that can help her.
If we need to license, regulate and tax the sale of cannabis and direct those funds to help combat dangerous criminals. There are a few bills in the Oregon Legislature that can help do just that, House Bill 3460, that would license and regulate medical cannabis dispensaries and House Bill 3371, that would set up licensed and retail outlets for all adults. These measures can generate millions of dollars for the state of Oregon, ensuring that police officers can come help you when you dial 911.
Do we all feel safer knowing that Lori Duckworth, a loving grandmother, is behind bars, but the state can’t afford to help a young woman begging for help?
We are so close to ending a futile war and better prioritizing our law enforcement resources. Unfortunately, we were too late for a Josephine County woman last August.