Portland Mayor Is Right: Law Forbids Medical Marijuana in Park
Mayor Sam Adams told Occupy Portland demonstrators that medical marijuana is not allowedin the downtown camp sandwiched between the State and Federal courthouses. Adams said that registered cardholders under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act are not allowed to use marijuana in a public park,even inside a tent. The Mayor's admonishment comes after Occupy Portlanders set up a tent area specifically designated for medical marijuana use. The Mayor tweeted:
"Recently, my team and I read some internet posts about OccupyPortland and medical use of marijuana in public places and parks. According the the Office of the City Attorney, under state law, a person authorized to possess marijuana for medical use is NOT allowed to do so in a public place or in public view. A public place means a place to which the general public has access and includes parks. So, even though a person may be authorized by state law to possess marijuana for medical use they are not allowed to do so anywhere in a public park."
In response, one critic asked Mr. Adams via twitter, "By what power does the Mayor exact this?" (See the Tweet). The Mayor responded by attempting to cite the applicable statute, ORS 475.316(1)(b). (He accidentally switched the "5" and the "7" in his post.) The law says that no card holder will be excepted from the criminal laws governing marijuana if that person "[e]ngages in the medical use of marijuana in a public place as that term is defined in ORS 161.015, or in public view or in a correctional facility as defined in ORS 162.135 (2) or youth correction facility as defined in ORS 162.135 (6). Under ORS 161.015(10), a public place "means a place to which the general public has access and includes, but is not limited to, hallways, lobbies and other parts of apartment houses and hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence, and highways, streets, schools, places of amusement, parks, playgrounds and premises used in connection with public passenger transportation."
Therefore, a registered card holder who uses medical marijuana in a public park loses his or her immunity from the criminal laws that punish marijuana use generally. There is potential room for an Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyer to make some creative legal arguments on this issue. Perhaps a limited argument could be made that the general public does not have access to the medical marijuana tent, because the marijuana tent is meant for the exclusive use of registered cardholders. A more interesting, if less compelling argument is that the Occupiers have fundamentally altered the nature of the space they are occupying such that it can no longer be considered a "park" within the meaning of the statute. Unfortunately, neither of these arguments is likely to hold up in court. The most persuasive analysis is that because the medical marijuana tent is located in the park, which is a place to which the general public has a right of access, medical marijuana users are not authorized to use marijuana in that public space.
If you have been arrested on Oregon Marijuana Charges or other Oregon Drug Charges, contact the law firm of Castleberry & Elison, P.C. RIGHT NOW for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL initial phone consultation. An Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyer will help you understand your options, explain the likely worst case scenario, and quote you a FLAT FEE for representation. Our criminal attorneys understand the Oregon Drug Laws and are prepared to fight for your rights in a court of law.