October 11, 2011
By Steven Sandberg
NEAR RUCH, Ore. — Medical marijuana growers say they are constantly operating with the fear that federal agents may raid them, and two recent raids in Southern Oregon are reinforcing that fear.
The High Hopes Farm, located outside Ruch, grows about 200 plants for its patients. They say they make sure everything they do is legal, because one misstep could get the attention of federal agents.
In the past two weeks, medical marijuana grows in Gold Hill and Central Point were raided by the DEA. Hundreds of plants were hauled away from each site. No charges were made and no one was arrested in either case. The growers say both locations were in compliance with state law. The DEA is still declining to comment on the raids.
High Hopes Farm owner James Bowman says because the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program does not enforce rules for growers, it allows many sites to be out of compliance by growing more than they are legally allowed to. Bowman says he wants better standards statewide, because if Oregon can show the program works legally, it could lead to federal changes.
“We’re trying to help as many people as we can, and do this in the most efficient way we can, and also do it in a model that hopefully can set some leadership on how to do this right,” Bowman explains.
Medical marijuana growers are allowed six plants each for four patients, but the OMMP does not have agents to enforce that rule, and law enforcement cannot check without suspicion of illegal activity. The High Hopes Farm says one of the things they do to stay in line, is to grow only two or three plants per patient. That way they avoid the risk of ever growing more than they are allowed.