Complaint: OR Police Campaigned Against Dispensary Measure


Photo: flickriver
Under Oregon state law, law enforcement officers aren’t supposed to advocate or oppose ballot measures — but that didn’t stop them from badmouthing Measure 74, which would allow state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon.

​Oregon officials are investigating allegations that law enforcement officers statewide violated election laws when they actively campaigned against Measure 74, the medical marijuana dispensary initiative.

In all, nine Oregon police officers have been accused of illegally campaigning against the measure.

Sgt. Erik Fisher of the Oregon State Police Drug Enforcement Section on Friday became part of the Secretary of State’s investigation, based on a complaint filed by Williams, Ore., resident Laird Funk, reports Damian Mann of the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune.
Funk specifically cited comments made by Fisher in articles in the Mail Tribune and the Eugene Register-Guard.
Complaints had already been filed against Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen, Medford Assistant Police Chief Tim George and Medford Lt. Tim Doney.

Others on the complaint list received by the Secretary of State’s office include police chiefs in Gold Beach, Brookings and Keizer, the Deschutes County Sheriff and one loudmouthed police detective in Grants Pass.

Graphic: KVAL

​The law enforcement officials are alleged to have violated Oregon Revised State 260.432, which excludes public officials from promoting or opposing any measure or candidate as part of their official duties.
Unfortunately, the only penalty for violating the statute is a paltry $75 fine — but the value of complaining about the officers violating the law is that it could have the desirable outcome of convincing them to shut their ignorant pie-holes.
Police officers across Oregon have claimed that Measure 74 would “add to the enforcement issues” they already complain about with the state’s medical marijuana program, including issues about who is entitled to possess cannabis, how much can legally be possessed and how to handle complaints from the neighbors of legal growers.
Measure 74 would create cannabis dispensaries and would add dispensary workers to the list of people who are allowed to possess, but not necessarily use, marijuana.
“I suspect that locally the price will go down, and we will quickly become the source for the illegal marijuana trade throughout the country,” said the OSP’s Fisher in one of the comments under investigation which ran in the Mail Tribune on October 7.
“It certainly puts the OSP in a pickle,” Fisher said. “I think it’s going to be a mess.”
Fisher denied to one of her staff members that he made the statement, according to Carla Corbin, compliance specialist with the Secretary of State. Fisher claimed his actual comments could be viewed on a webcast, referring to his appearance on a forum about marijuana initiatives in Oregon and California sponsored by Jefferson Public Radio and the Mail Tribune.
But Sgt. Fisher got that wrong, too. The comments in question were not from the forum at all, but from an earlier interview for a separate story published in the Mail Tribune, according to the paper.
Corbin said Fisher hadn’t yet officially responded regarding another quote reported in the Register-Guard on October 16:
“This situation is going to be about who’s making the money and less about the patient,” Sgt. Fisher said in that interview. “You don’t have to have a medical condition to be a producer or operate a dispensary. You just decide you want to get in the marijuana business.”
Fisher could not be reached for comment on the allegations Friday. The police sergeant has until Nov. 15 to submit a response to the Secretary of State’s letter, which was sent on Friday.
Funk, who filed the complaints against Fisher and other officers, said police can speak about Measure 74 but are not legally allowed to either advocate or oppose it. He thinks they went over the line in their comments about the measure.
“I didn’t set out to make it hard on these guys,” said Funk, who serves on the advisory council of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. “But they can’t give you any information other than what is factual and impartial.”