Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Author: Sarah Hunsberger
Published: Saturday, May 29, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Oregonian
Contact: [email protected]
Clackamas County officials say Shawn Flury of Oregon Green Cross lacked documentation for the operation's size.
A medical marijuana group was pushing Friday to replant its crop after Clackamas County Sheriff's Office investigators seized more than 100 plants in a greenhouse raid earlier this week near Woodburn.
Shawn Flury of Oregon Green Cross said he is collecting plants from other medical marijuana groups around the state and will get new plants in the ground as quickly as possible.
He said the group serves about 35 patients who depend on a free ounce of marijuana twice a month to ease their ailments.
However, sheriff's officials say they seized the 110 plants from the group's rented greenhouse on South Elliott Prairie Road because the operation lacked the documentation needed to grow that many plants.
There have been other raids of people suspected of violating the state's medical marijuana law, but this week's raid involved an unusually large number of plants, officials said.
Flury insists he had the documents that show the seized plants were legal. He thinks a paperwork backlog prevented police from verifying the records with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, which registers growers and issues medical marijuana cards to patients.
Oregon's 5-year-old medical marijuana law allows people with "debilitating medical conditions" to grow no more than seven plants at a time with a doctor's endorsement. Only three of the seven can be mature plants.
Cardholders must register the growing site with the state. Cardholders also can designate a caregiver to grow marijuana for them.
The rules allow 30 working days after a grower takes over a cardholder's plants before the state must be notified. So even if there's nothing in the state's files on the day of a police raid, a large collection of plants can turn out to be legal if the paperwork comes in later.
Deputy Angela Brandenburg, a sheriff's spokeswoman, said most of the growing operations her department investigates involve a person growing a crop at home for one or two cardholders. Large growing operations also are less common statewide, said Aaron Cossel, who works in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.
Caregivers who serve several cardholders can have as many as seven plants per cardholder.
The state doesn't limit the number of patients per caregiver. Nor does it limit the number of plants that can be grown in a single location, Cossel said. But each plant must be grown for a specific cardholder.
On the day of the raid, police confirmed with the state that the site was registered to grow marijuana for only three cardholders. Investigators seized all the plants at the greenhouse.
Later in the week, they confirmed that the state recently had received seven more cards for the greenhouse plants.
Investigators determined that most of the plants had been in the ground longer than the allowed 30-day notification window.
Investigators also couldn't determine which plants belonged to which cardholders.
Flury expressed confidence he would prevail in the case. He said it would be hard to prove in court how long the plants had been in the ground.
Flury, who lives in a yurt on the greenhouse property, said that with the 10 medical marijuana cards police confirmed, they should have left at least 70 plants alone. He said he offered to show investigators documentation of more cards at the group's off-site office, but they didn't look.
Flury, 42, who said he is the group's "master grower," faces charges of possession, manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance.
Another Oregon Green Cross member, David Thomas Howard, 50, is charged with possession of a controlled substance. During the raid, investigators found hashish in his belongings. The purified and highly potent extract of marijuana isn't covered under the medical marijuana regulations.
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