SALEM — The Oregon Health Authority has refused to provide the Deschutes County sheriff and district attorney with a list of medical marijuana grow sites, marking the latest friction over marijuana between local and state officials.
On March 13, Oregon Health Authority official Carole Yann told Sheriff Shane Nelson and District Attorney John Hummel the law doesn’t permit the agency to provide the list. Instead, local law enforcement — on a case-by-case basis — can verify the registration status of a site through a database or call the medical marijuana program managed by Yann, she said.
On Thursday, Hummel and Nelson challenged that justification and said they need the list to help identify illegal grow sites. “I respectfully suggest that providing Sheriff Nelson and I with the addresses of medical marijuana grow sites does not run afoul of Oregon statutory law,” Hummel wrote to Yann in a letter that was also signed by Nelson.
On Tuesday, officials in Josephine County sued the state in federal court, asserting that Oregon laws that made pot legal are pre-empted by a federal law that criminalizes it.
The cases illustrate a continuing struggle by local, state and federal officials over pot.
Oregon voters legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational cannabis in 2014. Some jurisdictions in Oregon were allowed to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana businesses. Deschutes County decided in 2016 to allow them after previously banning them in unincorporated areas. But county commissioners said this week they may try to prohibit new marijuana businesses until the rules are better enforced.
Hummel and Nelson complained in their Feb. 7 letter to the health authority, which regulates medical marijuana, that local law enforcement often can’t tell whether medical marijuana grow sites are legal or illegal because the agency hasn’t provided a list of authorized sites. They asked for a list of licensed medical growers.
Hummel said Thursday state law doesn’t prohibit the health authority from providing the list. He asked Yann to specify if the Legislature prohibits it, or if the health authority chose to require law enforcement to make case-by-case requests for information.
In their letter, Hummel and Nelson included a thumb drive containing every address in Deschutes County. They told Yann to verify whether each is a registered grow site.