Lori Duckworth of Southern Oregon NORML said medical marijuana advocates are eager to work with federal authorities to stop illegal sales, which can jeopardize supplies that should be going to patients.
"Until cannabis prohibition ends and we get some kind of regulation system in this country as a whole, we cannot stop the criminals, we can't stop the black market," she said. "Patients are not criminals. But patients are being punished for the actions of a few bad seeds."
Holton said an informal list of medical marijuana seizures in the past year kept by prosecutors showed 50 pounds going to Texas, 43 pounds going to Florida, 75 pounds going to the East Coast, and 120 pounds going to Arkansas. Cash was seized in amounts of $180,000 in Missouri, $165,000 in Arkansas, and $50,000 in Idaho.
"I think what is new about this, or different about what we have seen so far -- not this particular case -- is the excess amount of marijuana that must go someplace -- especially when we've got cardholders saying they can't get marijuana," Holton said.
Holton said he could not speak specifically about a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raid this week in Gold Hill, where hundreds of plants were seized from people who said they were within state medical marijuana limits. But federal efforts aimed at medical marijuana were targeting large traffickers, not individual patients.
Holton said they have no hard criteria for deciding when to bust a medical marijuana garden, but added that medical marijuana advocates are among their newest allies in combatting illegal sales.
"They understand this threatens something they care about," he said. "We are glad to have their help."
He acknowledged that there is a conflict with federal laws prohibiting any possession of marijuana, and state law allowing medical use, but noted that federal law trumps state law, and he is sworn to uphold the law.