For Portland’s dope king, love and mistrust

January 2nd, 2012 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Paul Stanford had lived a life of error, missteps and regrets, one laden with betrayals and failure. Then, on Nov. 3, 1998, Oregon voters approved the medicinal use of marijuana.

And in this way he was saved.

Paul Stanford’s business is medical marijuana, and he is the nation’s leading gateway to the drug. In Oregon, Hawaii, Michigan and three other states where it’s legal, he charges a small fee for access to friendly doctors. People walk in as customers and leave, mostly, as patients.

It’s an idea that has garnered him thousands of dollars — or, depending on who you believe, millions. His Hemp Cannabis Foundation has established clinics or traveling practices in 20 cities in six states, with plans to expand. In 13 years, Stanford, 50, has climbed out of a hole of debt and into the warm lap of the nation’s medical marijuana community.

Stanford isn’t just a marijuana-license distributor. He’s also a gifted grower whose plants have earned him first-place awards at medical marijuana competitions in the U.S. With such a green thumb, several patients have designated him as their pot grower, and he’s responsible for 80 plants at a warehouse in southeast Portland.

But there is another side to Stanford. Creditors say he has deceived them, the government says he’s a tax dodger; charged with felonies, he has pleaded down to lesser offenses. He has filed for bankruptcy at least twice. For at least three years, he paid off his personal bills with money from the

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