Marijuana near school stirs former Keizer councilor action

October 15, 2007

Ruth Liao, Salem Statesman-Journal

Former Keizer city councilor Chuck Lee has requested that city officials look into creating an ordinance that would ban Oregon medical marijuana providers from growing near schools.

On Thursday, Keizer Police investigated the theft of live medical marijuana plants from Anthony Beasley, who lives near McNary High School, police spokesman Capt. Jeff Kuhns said.

Kuhns said that although police found that the medical marijuana provider was in compliance with state law, he has received feedback from many Keizer residents about the issue.

"I've heard from plenty of citizens (who) don't think marijuana should be grown in that fashion," Kuhns said. "The law needs to be looked at again."

Lee, who wrote the letter as a private citizen, submitted the letter to city officials before news of the theft was made public. He said heard about the grower more than three weeks ago.

Lee is a member of the Salem-Keizer school board and the president of Blanchet Catholic School.

Lee said he is not against the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program but felt that a city ordinance or state law should be crafted that would prohibit all medical marijuana operations from within 1,000 feet of a school. A similar statute exists for possession or delivery of illegal drugs.

"I think it's a loophole through the medical marijuana law," Lee said.

Beasley, a legitimate medical marijuana grower, said he has been under the program for about eight months. Beasley said living so close to the school wasn't ideal, but he wanted to find a property suitable for his operation.

Beasley said he was trying to avoid attention to his property by keeping his place secure. It was early Wednesday morning when Keizer police contacted him while investigating a neighbor's report of an armed person in the area. Since then, he has placed tarps to block the plants from view.

Lee said that if the proposal dies at the city level, he's prepared to seek a change in state law.

"I just hope that we can avoid something like that from happening again in Keizer or maybe in any other school," Lee said. "We want to be careful of the safety and the welfare of the kids. Growing marijuana a couple of feet of where they're parking cars is not ideal."

rliao@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6941



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