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US Attorney for Oregon Attempts to Squelch First Amendment

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Dwight Holton, the US Attorney for Oregon, tried to silence a lawful protest by marijuana legalization activists on City Hall steps in Portland this morning, according to attorney Paul Loney.

Holton recently authored a letter circulated to cannabis patients' clubs threatening federal law enforcement action. The letter was endorsed by 33 of the 34 Oregon county district attorneys. Multnomah County D.A. Michael Shrunk declined to sign on, saying, "I don't like to threaten things that we realistically are not geared up to do," and "combating this cannot be termed a critical priority when balanced against others." From the Holton letter:

"Oregon and Federal law make it illegal to sell marijuana — period, end of story," said Holton. "The breathtaking surge in manufacture and distribution of marijuana in Oregon is putting marijuana in the hands of more and more healthy kids -- and dispensaries are fueling this crisis. We are confident that responsible landlords and property owners will remove the operators of illegal dispensaries and 'cannabis clubs'."

In response to the crackdown, Madeline Martinez, proprietor of one of the threatened clubs, the World Famous Cannabis Cafe, called a press conference Friday afternoon at the Portland City Hall steps. The permit had been turned in on Monday, according to Oregon NORML Legal Counsel Paul Loney.

Speaking to NORML SHOW LIVE, Loney explained, "We got word that [US Attorney] Holton contacted [Portland City Councilman] Nick Fish and told him, 'you shouldn't let those guys [the marijuana advocates] have their press conference at City Hall.'" According to Loney, "Fish told him that we turned in our permit on Monday and what they're doing is perfectly legal."

Loney continued, "I think this is more of a story than the letter - a US Attorney, sworn to uphold the Constitution, trying to squash the First Amendment rights of Oregonians! We are going to be investigating this and bringing it up with his boss, [Attorney General] Eric Holder."

Martinez, who also serves as director of NORML's state affiliate, Oregon NORML, and on the board of directors of the national organization, stated, "Between the recent report from the United Nations recommending full legalization of cannabis, Eric Holder's vague comments about working with medical cannabis states and the recent decree from the Oregon Department of Justice, many Oregon Medical Marijuana Program registrants are confused and worried for their safety."

Loney told the assembled protestors, a crowd of roughly forty, that nobody has yet shown the cannabis clubs to be operating outside the law. "Judges decide the law in this county," said Loney, "not sheriffs, not district attorneys."

Patients in Oregon are permitted to reimburse any cardholding grower for the supplies and expenses involved in producing medical marijuana, but reimbursement for labor is forbidden by law. Cannabis clubs in Oregon claim to be operating on the principle of reimbursements and unsolicited donations. Loney, speaking on local television news Thursday, said explicitly that these cannabis clubs are not selling.

Anna Diaz, a board member of Oregon NORML and NORML's 2011 Pauline Sabin Award Winner, spoke to NORML SHOW LIVE and explained "Sensible Oregon". "It's going to be an initiative like the 'Sensible Washington' one that will just remove marijuana from the criminal law, while still maintaining laws on DUI and not providing to children." Diaz said the initiative is still being conceived and written. Once written, it will be circulated fo collect the one thousand signatures required in Oregon to begin official signature gathering.

If "Sensible Oregon" makes it to signature gathering, it will join the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) as initiatve petitions to legalize marijuana in Oregon. OCTA has already completed the certification of ballot title and is currently gathering signatures.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: examiner.com
Author: Russ Belville
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Copyright: Clarity Digital Group LLC
Website: US Attorney for Oregon attempts to squelch First Amendment
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