Medical marijuana in Linn jail? Don’t hold your breath, says sheriff

April 14, 2006

Carrie Petersen, Corvallis Gazette-Times (OR)

A medical marijuana card isn’t going to help you get any of the drug at the county jail.

To begin with, no inmate at the Linn County Jail is allowed to smoke, tobacco or anything else, Sheriff Tim Mueller said.

At least one inmate disagrees with the jail rules and says that since Oregon passed a law to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, then it should be allowed at the jail as well.

In a letter to the Democrat-Herald, inmate Keven Hampton wrote, “As long as my doctor prescribes (medical marijuana) I should be able to take it anywhere.”

Hampton, 42, is serving a sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm and probation violation.

He is scheduled to be released in February 2007.

In his letter, Hampton doesn’t claim to be a cardholder.

And because of confidentiality rules, the only way to confirm someone has a card is for him to sign a release form, according to the Department of Human Services.

Hampton wrote that he has a brain injury, is paralyzed on his left side, and has muscle spasms. “The medical marijuana helps me to relax and helps with the pain ... How can they say I don’t need it and can’t have it here?”

His contention is that the law allows a patient to grow and use medical marijuana at home and while he’s incarcerated, the jail is his home.

“They just laugh at me,” he wrote.

Jail staff don’t keep a record of the inmates who have medical marijuana cards. Medical charts may make mention of cardholders, but only the jail nurses and doctors have access to those, Mueller said.

While people have smuggled marijuana into the jail, most have been caught and they aren’t necessarily cardholders, the sheriff said. He also said that it’s more common for people to try to sneak in tobacco products than marijuana.

Not allowing medical marijuana is about safety and security, Mueller added.

Allowing it would “create a whole host of problems,” he said, such as inmates trying to trade with others who aren’t cardholders, as well as the risk of fire.



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