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MailTribune.com
  • Ruch pot farm raided

    Medical marijuana advocates protest federal operation
  • Armed Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided a large medical marijuana garden Tuesday in Ruch, removing dump-truck loads of mature marijuana plants.
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  • Armed Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided a large medical marijuana garden Tuesday in Ruch, removing dump-truck loads of mature marijuana plants.
    But federal officials, assisted by Oregon State Police and Jackson County sheriff's deputies, were tight-lipped about the operation that continued late Tuesday.
    "We are executing a federal drug search warrant," said Jodie Underwood, a DEA special agent who spoke to reporters outside the site.
    "There are multiple addresses — we have multiple federal drug search warrants," she said.
    She referred media questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland, where spokeswoman Gerri Badden confirmed the target included High Hopes Farm in the 700 block of Upper Applegate Road and several related locations.
    The operation was part of an investigation involving illegal manufacture and distribution of marijuana, she said.
    "Because the investigation is pending, there will be no further comment," Badden said.
    Law enforcement officers at the entrance to the property kept the media and a small group of pro-medical-marijuana protesters away from the site.
    By 2 p.m., a large truck that usually carries gravel rumbled out of the driveway, its load of marijuana plants largely covered by a tarp. Another load emerged several hours later.
    From a site off Highway 238 immediately west of Ruch, an excavator could be seen digging the large plants out of the marijuana gardens.
    Calls to the High Hopes Farm were not returned Tuesday. The farm has been operated by state-licensed grower James Bowman, 52, a longtime outspoken advocate of medical marijuana. Bowman told The Associated Press in April he planned to plant about 400 marijuana plants this year for 200 patients.
    While law enforcement officers were largely mum, several people who said they were medical marijuana cardholders were outspoken in their support for the farm.
    Brenda Powers, 43, of Grants Pass, held a sign which read on one side, "DEA Go Away." On the other, it added, "Oregon Did Not Invite You."
    She and others said they felt Bowman was legally growing medical marijuana under the auspices of the 1998 Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.
    "I'm tired of the federal government making up rules as it goes," she said.
    Chelsea Hopkins, 24, from the Greenery, a medical marijuana resource center in Ashland, would agree. She became a medical marijuana cardholder and grower to help control the chronic pain from a metal rod in her lower left leg and a metal plate in her ankle, she said.
    "This will affect mostly the patients he is trying to get medicine to," she said of the raid. "We are going to see a need for more medicine for the patients that are going to lose their medicine. It will also put fear in other growers' minds."
    She surmised the raid was launched at this point because this is approaching prime harvest time.
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