Feds Bust Former Portland Police Detective for Medical Marijuana

August 06, 2007

Tim King, Columnist, Salem-News (OR)

The Portland Tribune's article Monday on the federal government's persistent hassling of a medical marijuana patient in Oregon, underscores the Bush administration's failure to value state's rights, and shows how they in fact do everything possible in some cases to eliminate them.

This vast determination to reverse laws solidly supported by Oregon voters is curious, because those who were listening recall how Bush talked about the importance of state's rights during his election campaign.

Instead, we are only witness to the devaluing of those local decision-making abilities of Americans.

Nick Budnick's article delivers a saga that makes the blood of the state's legal medical marijuana patients boil. As real problems in our state go totally unaddressed, conservative stalwarts like several time failed gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix, of Oregon, are joining forces with out-of-state interests to end the wishes of the people who live here.

None of it sits well with 71-year old Don DuPay, a retired Portland Police detective with a long, successful law enforcement career under his belt. He suffers from degenerative hip disease and hepatitis C, so he grows medicine for himself and for sick people within Oregon's legal Medical Marijuana program.

Regardless of the fact that medical marijuana is legal under Oregon state law, DuPay says DEA investigators threatened to arrest him if he did not cooperate with their federal marijuana investigation.

The former Portland police detective was hot under the collar in his reaction toward a DEA agent that threatened him. DuPay spent his life as a police officer arresting people for actual crimes. He comes from a world different than today's DEA agents with questionable jurisdictional issues.

“I was probably carrying a homicide detective badge before this punk was born,” he said, steaming at the federal agent heading the investigation. "I said, ‘As far as I’m concerned, you’re a baldheaded punk.’"

On June 14th federal agents seized growing equipment, guns, surveillance cameras, and 135 plants from his property, and also raided four smaller grows that he maintains elsewhere.

Defiant and angry, DuPay's position is online with thousands of other Oregonians like Dr. Phil Leveque of Molalla, who says the only reason marijuana remains illegal is because big money organizations like the pharmaceutical groups, the oil and petroleum industries, and liquor and alcohol manufacturers fear losing money to a harmless herb that grows naturally.

"Marijuana can treat more ailments than any other single thing like it; it is not addictive, that is a bunch of garbage. It brings people relief from pain and suffering," commented Dr. Leveque.

DuPay says he was growing medical marijuana legally for 40 patients that are registered by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.

Oregon state law does have a "Caregiver" provision that allows a patient to have another person grow their medical marijuana after the state does a criminal background person on the grower. However, Oregon patients and caregivers can not buy or sell marijuana under any circumstances. In California, medical marijuana can be purchased by patients from special dispensaries. Not in Oregon. Oregon patients can compensate their growers for the effort but they can only do that by "donating" money for lighting, water and other expenses.

The Tribune article delves into the clash between the state and the federal governments over the issue of medical marijuana. Oregon’s medical marijuana law was approved by 55 percent of voters in 1998. Oregon law enforcement agencies follow the law, but the feds are not required to.

It amounts to a total lack of professionalism on the part of federal agents. Police agencies in the United States have not always been friends, but by the early 1980's, state, county and city law agencies were working together and that cooperation began a new period of increased successes and convictions and credibility, and ended a history of rivalry.

Now the Bush government's troops in suits are in our state and they are in our neighboring states, and they are here to jail Oregonians and demonstrate that as the president talks out of two sides of his mouth over state's rights, his true intentions are anything but what he said they were.

Representing the DEA, Spokesman Bernie Hobson stated the agency's position to the Tribune, "From a federal standpoint, there is no such thing as medical marijuana."

That is the federal government's regard for Oregon in a sentence. The state has millions of voters weigh and consider things carefully before executing decisions. But here come the federal agents to arrest your friends, loved ones and neighbors.

Feds make moves on private information of Oregonians

Even though the media is blocked from patient information under federal HPPA laws, The Tribune article reports that the federal government has issued subpoenas for Oregon patient information.

The feds want personal information about patients in Oregon’s medical marijuana program, and they are also trying to gain private knowledge about the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation. The foundation employs doctors who prescribe marijuana to patients under the Oregon program.

The Tribune learned that a federal subpoena issued on April 10th demanded all medical and other documentation for 17 people in Oregon and Washington state. The identities of the specific 17 people are not known.

Now American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Graham Boyd has signed on to help quash the subpoena. It is further reported that attorneys for the state of Oregon are joining the team being assembled that will quash the federal government’s demand.

Don DuPay gained a good deal of public attention when he ran for Multnomah County sheriff against incumbent Bernie Giusto. More than 29,000 residents voted for him, making him Giusto's biggest opponent.

Now he says it is time for Oregon to lend him a hand, and in turn also help protect his patients from the questionable tactics of the federal government, "Somebody in state government better do something about this, or I’ll run for governor," he said.

One of the patients DuPay grows for is suffering from the end stages of liver disease. Another is a man whose leg was shattered and is now comprised of screws and plates. That man says the actions of the feds make him "furious" as he deals with the raw pain of his daily physical life.

Until recently, the DEA has given the Oregon program a break, but it looks like the state is now going to deal with what California patients have been dealing with for years.

The DEA is operating as a rogue group, out of place and out of line.

It is the latest, shameful behavior from an ultra right-wing presidency and administration that is bent on doing anything possible to promote big corporate business and to trample on the sick and poor.

Feds trample on other state issues

Medical marijuana isn't the only voter passed law the administration has failed to respect; the Department of Justice also challenged the constitutionality of Oregon's Assisted Suicide law in court.

In 2002, U.S. District Judge Robert Jones made this comment about federal ambitions to undermine Oregon voters, “Oregon voters decided not once, but twice to support the law and have chosen to resolve the moral, legal and ethical debate on physician-assisted suicide for themselves."

The Bush administration did not end there. Attorney General John Ashcroft who was in office at the time, appealed the case, eventually taking it in front of the Supreme Court. The rest is history for Oregon.

Sources say the president and his conservative base are so thoroughly opposed to any form of assisted suicide, that it sought any and all possible means to overturn the Oregon law.

Now we see both the rogue agents and others with a personal agenda in Oregon, attempting to end Oregon's voter approved medical marijuana program. See the Salem-News.com article by Dr. Phil Leveque for more on that: Medical Marijuana: Is Kevin Mannix a Bigot?

A number of states in the U.S. have passed medical marijuana legislation. If you live in a state that is experiencing federal intervention, write to us and tell us about it so we can keep track.

The foundation of this country was built on a citizen's right to choose, and the DEA and the Bush government that writes its paychecks has become in many people's eyes, an enemy of the citizenry.

That is a sad perspective.

For the Portland Tribune article by Nick Budnick, visit this link: http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=118609925649231700



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