In preparation for a state law enforcement conference last year, Portland Police Sgt. Pat Walsh called drug units across Oregon to ask what they were most worried about. The answer: medical marijuana.
"It's not Grandma with stomach cancer that we have a problem with," Walsh says—it's the scores of people using the law as a cover for slinging dope, giving those with a legitimate need a bad name.
So in the name of the legit growers in our Jan. 24 cover story, "Garden of Weedin'," we make medical marijuana abusers this week's Rogues. Law-enforcement officials say once a medical marijuana card is issued, there's little oversight to make sure the right amount of pot is being grown and that all the nugs are going to patients. Portland police don't keep separate statistics on medical-marijuana cases, but estimate they investigated about 30 such cases last year.
In one such case, residents of a home on Portland's North Terry Street had two medical marijuana cards, letting them legally grow 12 marijuana plants.
But police say the neighborhood smelled like a Cheech and Chong movie and the home had a lot of foot traffic. A search warrant revealed more than three times the legal number of plants—some as big as Christmas trees and each capable of producing up to a pound of pot.
Police hauled it away in 55 burlap evidence sacks. They left 12 plants and 48 ounces of pot, bringing the home back into legal compliance. The September 2006 raid also netted 20 pipes and bongs, two digital scales, plastic baggies, a 9 mm Glock and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
The two residents, Christopher Pipkey and Timothy Longbord, said they weren't selling the drugs and had started growing for additional patients before the paperwork had been competed. Each was charged with manufacturing and possessing marijuana, and child endangerment because they had a 7-year-old girl in the house. Both pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.