Changes on tap for medical marijuana law

September 28, 2005

Associated Press, The Oregonian

Oregon is on the verge of having its medical marijuana law revised to make it easier for police to interpret and harder for criminals to exploit.

To date, more than 11,000 Oregonians have medical marijuana cards, issued by their doctors. The card allows them to grow the marijuana themselves, or else designate a caregiver to grow it for them. But the law as written is full of ambiguities and a bill passed by the 2005 Legislature attempts to make it easier for police, growers and patients to know what's legal.

"There was a lot of room for interpretation; now it's clear-cut," said Oregon State Police Drug Enforcement Section Sgt. Joel Lujan.

The new law, which takes effect in January, specifies limits on how many plants a patient can own and stricter requirements for registering a grow site.

Lawmakers also approved a hefty increase in the amount of marijuana a registered patient or caregiver can possess. The purpose of that was to bring the limits in line with the typical yield of a marijuana plant, which can produce multiple ounces of usable marijuana at a time, said Rep. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, the bill's co-sponsor.

The changes come as two medical marijuana growers — Shawn Flurry, 44, and David Thomas Howard, 51, — are sentenced this week in a case that highlighted the confusion.

In May 2004, police seized more than 100 plants from a greenhouse in Clackamas County run by Flurry and Howard. The men told police that the plants were for card-carrying medical marijuana patients. But police determined there were not enough card-carrying patients to account for the large number of plants.

Clackamas County Judge Ronald Thom said he thought the men had good intentions — one of the men said Jesus called on him to "grow the herb" for sick people — but he found them guilty of drug possession and manufacturing last week.

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