Drug Traffickers Love Oregon's Lenient Medical Marijuana Laws

'Oregonian' investigation: It's an easy way to make a lot of money

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 25, 2012 4:08 PM CDT | Updated Sep 29, 2012 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Medical marijuana became legal in Oregon 14 years ago, and since then it's become a booming source of profits for illicit traffickers, reports the Oregonian. The newspaper's investigation found that the traffickers easily exploit the pot program thanks to "scant state oversight and Oregon's exceptionally generous medical marijuana possession and plant limits, all of which lead to the production of far more pot than a typical patient needs." One woman in the story made $125,000 in five months shipping pot to the East Coast. (She got caught and served 6 months' probation.)

Some factors:

  • Card-holding growers in Oregon can have up to 24 mature plants—six plants per patient, with a maximum of four patients. That means one person can cultivate dozens of pounds of pot, even though the legal possession limit is 1.5 pounds.
  • "They're selling it," says the US attorney for Oregon. "It's a huge profit margin. They are not burning it up or flushing it down the toilet or destroying the excess."
  • Oregon pot sells for $1,000 to $3,000 per pound in the state, but it can fetch $5,200 a pound in the Midwest and on the East Coast.
  • About 40% of the Oregon pot seized on US trafficking routes in the first three months of this year was supposed to be used in the state's medical marijuana program.
  • Read the full story here.

A file photo shows a marijuana plant in Portland, Ore.
A file photo shows a marijuana plant in Portland, Ore.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
This 2011 photos shows marijuana growing in the home of two medical marijuana patients in Medford, Ore.
This 2011 photos shows marijuana growing in the home of two medical marijuana patients in Medford, Ore.   (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)
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