First, they came for the Wake ‘n Bake Cannabis Lounge. Next, and most recently, it was Serene Dreams, whose owner Terry Spaunhorst received probation after pleading guilty to unlawful delivery of marijuana. Unfortunately, the Human Collective, the last medical cannabis patient resource center in Washington County, could very well be next. Such arrests and prosecutions don’t deter cannabis use or derail cannabis sales, they simply push patients, often battling debilitating medical conditions, into the underground market, creating a more dangerous situation for patients.
From the Oregonian:
Leland Berger, Spaunhorst’s lawyer, said the prosecution of Serene Dreams has removed a “safe access point” for medical marijuana patients. Many medical marijuana patients, he said, struggle to find a reliable and safe source.
“The most disconcerting thing to me is the state would expend tremendous resources to shut down a safe access point for patients,” he said, adding it would have been left alone had it “been situated 20 miles east.”
Berger was referring to Multnomah County’s general tolerance for dispensary-like establishments. Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk has made it clear that prosecuting medical marijuana clubs and collectives is not a priority for his office given dwindling law enforcement resources.
Washington County District Attorney sent defense attorney Leland Berger the following email, answering Mr. Berger’s question as to why Serene Dreams was targeted by Washington County Law Enforcement:
Hillsboro Police Officers were driving by on their way to work and asking, “are you serious, we have a drug dispensary a block away from the police department? We’ve got to do something about it!” But this would’ve happened had it been anywhere in Washington County. Unless its legalized, we’re not going to ignore or allow pot shops. That would be the best advice you can give to other prospective clients—don’t set up a shop in Washington County. I actually liked your “20 miles to the east” quote in the paper! Not because I enjoy Mult. Co. getting slammed, but just the emphasis that this won’t fly here in Washington County.
One of the reasons I decided to quit practicing criminal defense to instead concentrate on working to end cannabis prohibition was because of cases like this-instances where someone is arrested and prosecuted for actions that wouldn’t be prosecuted just a few miles away in a different county. This case also illustrates why medical cannabis is not sufficient. We must end cannabis prohibition for all adults, because no one deserves facing a prison sentence for cannabis.
As Leland Berger stated in an email exchange, “Cannabis prohibition is the crime and the best thing that could possibly happen for patients and their providers is for cannabis prohibition to end.”
Anthony Johnson is the Executive Director for the National Cannabis Coalition