Medical Marijuana Growers Selling to Black Market, Complicating Matters

By Danny Fenster

Difficulties seem to be sprouting up like weeds as local governments across the country experiment with new laws and regulations concerning medical marijuana; the drug is still illegal and listed as a controlled substance by the federal government.

A top federal law enforcement official in Oregan has declared that medical growers are selling their products onto the black market, outside of the limits of the state that regulates the industry, reports The Bulletin, of Bend, Ore.   The result has been a number of busts by the DEA.

U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton told The Associated Press on Friday that Oregon medical growers sold marijuana to buyers in Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Idaho and Missouri illegally.

“We hear from patients when I’m on radio call-in shows,” Holton said, according to the AP. “Inevitably, we get a call in saying, ‘I can’t find marijuana.’ If cardholders can’t find marijuana, we’ve got to figure out where it is going, and there is a ton of it growing in the state. The answer is we know where it is going.”

Advocates of the drug’s legalization place the blame more with the disconnect between the federal ban of the drug and the increasing acceptance of its use in various states.

“Until cannabis prohibition ends and we get some kind of regulation system in this country as a whole, we cannot stop the criminals, we can’t stop the black market,” said Lori Duckworth of Southern Oregon NORML.

She said advocates are eager to work with the feds to stop the illegal sales, which are a burden on the patients that need the drug.

“Patients are not criminals. But patients are being punished for the actions of a few bad seeds,” she said.

One indicator of the illegal sales were patient complaints that they were often unable to obtain marijuana from legal dispensaries and caregivers due to a lack of supply, said Holton, the US attorney.

“An informal list of medical marijuana seizures in the past year kept by prosecutors showed 50 pounds going to Texas, 43 pounds going to Florida, 75 pounds going to the East Coast, and 120 pounds going to Arkansas,” reports The Bulletin.

“I think what is new about this, or different about what we have seen so far — not this particular case — is the excess amount of marijuana that must go someplace — especially when we’ve got cardholders saying they can’t get marijuana,” Holton told The Bulletin.

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