Membership fees could threaten Oregon pot clubs

August 29th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Portland-area medical marijuana club got busted primarily for charging street prices for a product that is supposed to be donated from grower to patient. But membership fees required by the Wake ‘n Bake Cannabis Lounge were also singled out by prosecutors, and that has other clubs worried they could be next.

The owner of Wake ‘n Bake pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of marijuana last week. An undercover Washington County Sheriff’s Office investigation used a hidden camera to film a whiteboard listing prices for different strains — charging up to $180 an ounce.

During plea negotiations, prosecutors maintained that membership fees charged by the club in Aloha were also a violation of the law, a part of the umbrella “distribution of a controlled substance” charges filed against club owner Kathleen Cambron, who was sentenced to probation.

Some Oregon law enforcement officers argue that charging membership fees to belong to a medical marijuana club is the equivalent of selling the drug, and say more busts like this one are likely to come.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Clatsop County Sheriff Thomas Bergin, president of the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association.

Bergin said time and resources are the only obstacles to shutting down more cannabis clubs and he doesn’t mind using the membership fees as a springboard.

“I’d like to see them all shut down today. We’ll get there,” Bergin said.

Under Oregon law, growers are allowed to charge their patients for the costs of cultivating pot but not for

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