News / USA

Legal Drug Dealers Prepare to Set Up Shop in Oregon

A measure on this November's ballot would allow state residents to buy marijuana for medical purposes

Pot sales are conducted behind the curtain on the right at the Green Heart medical marijuana dispensary in Mount Shasta, California.
Pot sales are conducted behind the curtain on the right at the Green Heart medical marijuana dispensary in Mount Shasta, California.

Multimedia

Audio
Chris Lehman

Oregon is one of 14 U.S. states that allows its citizens to use marijuana for medical purposes. But they can't legally buy the drug. They have to grow it themselves or find a caregiver to grow it for them.  

A measure on this November's ballot would change that by following California's lead in allowing storefront pot sales.  California has hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries but sponsors of Oregon's Measure 74 say their measure takes a more conservative approach.

Drug deals

Several drug deals take place all of the time in Mount Shasta, California.

It's late afternoon at The Green Heart, a medical marijuana dispensary where a steady stream of customers comes in the door of the basement shop. They sit in a waiting room until a clerk examines their ID. Once approved, they're invited into a second curtained-off room to make their purchase.

"We got some joints," says the sales clerk. "Did you want one? I know you're a joint guy."

In just over 10 minutes, a half-dozen customers buy nearly $240 worth of pot.

One of them is Army veteran Tim Scarborough, who says he injured his knee during a training accident. He says marijuana helps control the pain. And he says he can't grow this much at home.

"This place is a convenience," says Scarborough. "Right now my plants aren't even close to being mature to harvest. I still have another month, month and a half before I could do that."

The Green Heart marijuana dispensary is located in a basement storefront.
The Green Heart marijuana dispensary is located in a basement storefront.

Another customer, Terri Barton, says she has bipolar disorder, but admits she's been using pot since her early teens, long before California voters approved medical marijuana in 1996. She says it's much easier to shop at the dispensary than buy it on the street. Barton believes marijuana helps her condition, but can't explain how.

"I don't know the details of the plant. It's medicine for me," she says. "I buy it in a little sack, and I consume it by smoking it." Turning to the clerk, she asks, "Can I get three grams of the cheapest you got?"

Promoting drug use?

The Green Heart is one of three marijuana dispensaries in this northern California town. It's a different story just up the road in Yreka, where the city council has banned them altogether. City Manager Steve Baker says dispensaries don't fit the family-friendly image the city is trying to create.

"We're looking at a storefront where people advertise," says Baker. "They're encouraging the use, possibly, well beyond the original intent of the use of medical marijuana."

That's the argument law enforcement organizations are making in Oregon. Sheriffs, police chiefs and district attorneys say giving the green light to marijuana storefronts will lead to more abuse of the drug by making it more available.

Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin says medical pot dispensaries can be targets for crime. But that isn't his only problem with Measure 74.

"Is this about pain or is this about profit?" asks Bergin. "The final outcome, what they're really hoping for, is just total legality of another drug into our society."

Pushing the limits

In fact, California is about to go one step further. In November, voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana - and not just for medical purposes. However, supporters of the Oregon dispensary measure say that's not on the agenda here.

They point to Measure 74's safeguards against abuse: criminal background checks for employees while dispensaries and growers would have to register with the state. That's not required in California. And unlike California, medical marijuana users in Oregon are required to carry state-issued cards.

One of Measure 74's chief petitioners, Alice Ivany, says Oregon can learn from what she sees as California's mistakes.

"We're trying to legitimize this. We're trying to take the concern away from the public with having inspections on these specific gardens. We're having dispensaries inspected."

While she and the thousands of other Oregonians who use medical marijuana may grow their own pot, she says the dispensary measure is an insurance policy for when their crops fail. To Ivany, permitting a corner shop to sell marijuana is about compassion for people with chronic illnesses, who have a hard time getting medication.

It's also about compensation. The state would get a 10 percent cut of dispensary marijuana sales.

You May Like

Somalia: No Popular Elections in 2016

In interview Wednesday with VOA, President Mohamud says 'one person, one vote' elections will not be possible due to continuing insecurity More

Scientists Predict Climate Change Will Increase Child Malnutrition

Public health expert in Germany says that by 2050, 25 million more children's lives will be put at risk because of lack of nutrients tied to climate change More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs