You may recall in December of last year, when the DEA raided a Public Storage facility in Portland, and seized 500 pounds of cannabis. It made the news when the manager was held at gunpoint by the two alleged owners of said weed, who suspected him of having stolen their stash.
Yesterday we learned a bit more about the Mensa candidates who opted to keep 500 pounds of weed in a storage unit, because that's some good crime-doing right there. And while 500 pounds may seem like a fairly large amount, it was just the start.
In addition to the aforementioned gun-toting criminal masterminds, authorities announced indictments against another three individuals. They've been charged with shipping cannabis to Texas and Virginia. In a separate indictment, a Hood River man who charged with shipping cannabis to Florida.
Per Oregonlive, these investigations resulted in seizures of "about 11,000 marijuana plants, 546 pounds of processed marijuana, more than $2.8 million in cash, 51 firearms, 26 vehicles, a yacht, trailers, and heavy equipment."
So, that's not good. But something else that isn't good is the way this is being framed, and will be seized upon by prohibitionist voices who will attempt to blame this on the recreational cannabis industry.
Oregon's U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said the prosecutions and civil forfeiture action represent his office's aim to disrupt "overproduction and the illegal export of marijuana out-of-state.''Except long before Measure 91 went into effect, people have been organizing, growing, and shipping cannabis out of Oregon. That's a fact, Jack. And there hasn't been any solid evidence presented to show that implementation of our recreational cannabis program has increased the number of people doing this. And of the six individuals thus far charged in these investigations, not a single one has held a recreational grower's license, dispensary license, or wholesaler's license. Not a single one even held a marijuana handler's permit, even though there were obviously some serious amounts of marijuana being handled.
"These cases provide clear evidence of what I have repeatedly raised concerns over: Oregon's marijuana industry is attracting organized criminal networks looking to capitalize on the state's relaxed regulatory environment,'' Williams said. "Dismantling criminal organizations is a key focus of our marijuana enforcement strategy.''
No one playing by the very long list of restrictive rules in Oregon's recreational cannabis industry benefits from this type of illegal activity, nor should they ever be lumped in with criminal enterprises. Licensed cannabis businesses pay high fees to both cities and state regulatory agencies, in addition to creating jobs, and raising millions in tax revenue for law enforcement, schools, and drug and alcohol treatment. They aren't criminals—they are hard-working, rule-abiding citizens who contribute to the financial wellbeing of Oregon. To lump them in with a violent criminal gang is a false equivalence, and a clear distinction should be made.