US Attorney Dwight Holton Cites Death Threat Over Medical Marijuana Letter

U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton tells WW his office received a string of critical calls and one death threat last week after he put out a strongly worded warning to Oregon medical-marijuana dispensaries.

Immediately following Holton's June 3 warning that businesses selling marijuana "will not be tolerated," he says his office in Portland received calls in support of his stand. The letters sent out to dozens of Oregon medical-marijuana businesses and their landlords were also signed by 34 district attorneys.

But about five days after his statement was publicized—and after medical-marijuana outlets had received the letters in the mail—Holton says his office began getting calls from people critical of his stance. Some asked where they should get their marijuana if dispensaries close.

"The majority of them were perfectly pleasant, several were nasty, and this one person was way over the line," Holton says. "It was a death threat. Not to me—it was a death threat to the receptionist. That's what was remarkable about it. Who's going to threaten a receptionist?"

Holton says several callers told him their dispensaries were closing. But Donald Morse, who helps run the Human Collective clinic in Tigard, says he's not aware of any medical-marijuana outlets that have shut down.

"A few places closed for a couple of days [after Holton's warning]," Morse says, "but they have since reopened—I assume after talking with their attorneys."

Holton's warning came two days after WW published a story about tensions between medical-marijuana businesses and law enforcement. People who have opened dozens of dispensary-style cannabis outlets statewide tell WW they believe those establishments are allowed under Oregon's medical-marijuana laws.