July 21st, 2011 8:00 am | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: Activism, Drugs, Cops and Courts

The Federal Crackdown on Oregon Dispensaries Claims a Victim

Foster Healing Center marijuana dispensaryThe front door of the former Foster Healing Center on July 13. - Ben Waterhouse

This past spring, U.S. Attorney for Oregon Dwight Holton followed the lead of several U.S. attorneys in other states and issued a strongly worded letter warning medical-marijuana dispensaries—and their landlords—that they were violating federal drug-trafficking laws.

Now, Holton's campaign—which he said led to a death threat against his staff—has claimed a victim in Portland.

The Foster Healing Center, a nonprofit dispensary in Southeast Portland that started up last November, closed its doors after Holton issued his letter in June. Foster Healing Director Steve Geiger says his landlord cited Holton's letter and forced him to close the dispensary and alternative-medical clinic.

"If it wasn't for our landlord, we were willing to stay right up until they raided us. We felt strongly what we were doing was right," Geiger says.

Geiger says the nonprofit had its own collective of state-licensed growers. The clinic's members—Geiger says there were several hundred at any given time—could obtain cannabis there in exchange for a reimbursement fee to the growers.

Geiger and the operators of other dispensary-style clubs and collectives maintain such setups are legal under Oregon law. But Washington County deputies raided a dispensary-style club in Aloha last month. And possessing or selling marijuana remains illegal under federal statutes.

"Was money exchanged and people walked out with cannabis? Yes. Was it done in a way we feel was in line with the law? Yes,” Geiger says.

Geiger's three-year-old head shop, Highway 420, remains open next door at 6418 SE Foster Rd.

(Photo: The door to the former Foster Healing Center, photographed July 13. Courtesy of Ben Waterhouse.)
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