There has been hope throughout the Oregon cannabis community that the passage of House Bill 3460 would end the wasteful and harmful prosecutions of medical cannabis providers that have plagued certain parts of Oregon. The charges against these providers have been based on allegations that they have received reimbursement for medical cannabis above and beyond “supplies and utilities” as the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act currently doesn’t allow growers and providers to be compensated for any other expenses. However, that will change once Governor Kitzahber signs HB 3460. Since HB 3460 will allow growers and providers to be compensated for “the normal and customary costs of doing business”, shouldn’t prosecutors save tax payer dollars and concentrate on actions that Oregon still considers a crime?
While prosecutors are likely technically within their rights to continue these prosecutions, it seems to me, that these prosecutors should use their discretion to concentrate on more serious issues. Unfortunately, according to The Oregonian, two prosecutors have already stated that they will continue to move forward with these costly and harmful prosecutions.
Maybe, these prosecutors will come to their senses. Maybe, if they hear from enough of their constituents, they will realize that law enforcement resources are better utilized elsewhere and these medical cannabis providers do not deserve to be prosecuted, let alone serve lengthy prison sentences. If these cases go to trial, hopefully jury members will know that House Bill 3460 passed, providing the rules and regulations necessary for medical cannabis dispensaries to clearly operate within the law. These cases scream for “jury nullification” to me. While jurors are often under the assumption that they don’t have the right to “judge” the law, they always have that power, regardless of what the judge or prosecutor may say. American history is filled with jurors who nullified the law, whether to not punish those helping free slaves or those prosecuted during Alcohol Prohibition.
More coverage from The Oregonian:
Margie Paris, a law professor at the University of Oregon School of Law, said prosecutors are on legally solid ground in moving ahead with dispensary cases. But she said the passage of HB 3460 potentially complicates their work.
“Maybe the most profound problem is, this is a signal from the Oregon community that we don’t want prosecutorial resources expended in this way,” Paris said, “or we don’t want people engaging in these retail sales to be punished, to be criminalized.”
Paris said prosecutors may encounter resistance from jurors. “If the defendant chooses to go to trial, can you get a jury to convict?”
If Oregon prosecutors continue to waste limited resources and punish legal medical cannabis card holders for providing cannabis to other legal card holders, we here at NCC will certainly do all that we can to help educate local populations about their power to nullify the law. Good luck to all of these defendants, hopefully these prosecutors will come to their senses and realize that the people of Oregon have spoken―we no longer want medical cannabis providers arrested, prosecuted and jailed for providing cannabis to other legal card holders.