October 13, 2011
By Steven Sandberg
RUCH, Ore. — Southern Oregon lawmakers are seeing the problems and benefits of the medical marijuana program up close.
Representatives Peter Buckley, Dennis Richardson, Sal Esquivel, and State Senator Alan Bates were given a tour of the High Hopes Medical Marijuana Farm near Ruch. The local legislators are touring a medical pot farm, seeing what works, what doesn’t, and how they can improve the system. The lawmakers say its one thing to talk about medical marijuana in Salem, but it’s another to see a grow operation firsthand.
The farm’s owner, James Bowman, showed the lawmakers how the farm operated, and how they grow and distribute marijuana for hundreds of patients. The legislators said they were impressed with the professionalism of the grow site, but said there were still too many questions about finances and how the pot is given out. Bowman says he thinks his farm’s operation can serve as a model that can be adopted statewide to prevent trafficking and abuse.
Another issue discussed this afternoon during the tour was state versus federal laws. Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Oregon, but not under federal law. Lawmakers said two recent federal raids on Southern Oregon pot grows are examples that the system needs to be improved.
The High Hopes Farm is trying to have lawmakers amend the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act to give wider access to patients. They hope today’s tour is the first step to make it happen.