Three people arrested in a series of medical marijuana dispensary raids last week successfully appealed their steep bail amounts Thursday afternoon before a Jackson County Circuit Court judge.
Judge Tim Gerking reduced the $550,000 bail holding on Lori Duckworth, 50, and Leland Duckworth, 49, to $5,000 and $10,000 respectively. The bail for David James Bond, 44, was reduced to $20,000. (Correction: The bail for David Bond has been updated in this story.)
The Duckworths are charged with 11 counts each of conspiracy to deliver marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, and 11 counts each of manufacturing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school. Bond is charged with four counts of conspiracy to deliver marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, and four counts of manufacturing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school.
In an earlier hearing on Tuesday, supporters of the three gasped when Circuit Judge Tim Barnack refused to lower the $550,000 bail holding the Duckworths in jail and increased bumped Bond's bail to $550,000 from $200,000.
Gerking cited the trio's strong community ties, limited or nonexistent criminal history and myriad medical issues as reasons for the bail reduction. "I understand Judge Barnack's concerns and why he set bail so high," Gerking said, adding he was "reasonably satisfied" the defendants were not a flight risk or a danger to the public.
Gerking ordered the defendants not to have any contact with each other and submit to drug testing at the court's request.
Lori Duckworth, a vocal proponent of medical marijuana, is the executive director of the Southern Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Keith Mansur said after the hearing that he and Lori Duckworth have co-hosted a radio show titled "Rogue Cannabis" for the past year. Mansur said he was glad Barnack was not handling Thursday's bail reduction hearing.
"Judge Gerking was reasonable and even-handed," Mansur said. "But it's still a travesty."
Mansur said medical marijuana supporters would continue with a planned protest at the courthouse later that afternoon.
"We will have fundraisers and more protests," he said.
The defendants on Tuesday each pleaded not guilty to all charges. They are scheduled for a pre-trial appearance on June 17.
Lawyers for the defendants argued that the couple were not getting treatment in jail for various medical ailments.
Leland Berger, representing Leland Duckworth, made the case for the Duckworths, saying that they have deep roots in the community and should not be viewed as a flight risk.
The defendants should be released on their own recognizance and believed they were operating within Oregon's medical marijuana laws, Berger said.
"They are not alone in thinking their conduct was protected," Berger said, adding the private school referenced in the charges was created after the dispensaries were in operation.
The SONORML office on West Sixth Street in Medford was one of four medical cannabis dispensaries raided by police on May 23.
Officers with numerous agencies descended on Puffin' Stuff on Crater Lake Avenue in Medford, the Green Compass on East McAndrews Road in Medford and The Compass on Second Avenue in Gold Hill.
Police allege the dispensaries were storefronts for illegal marijuana sales.
Officers said they seized nearly 12 pounds of marijuana, 94 plants, $2,752 in cash, documents, computers and edible marijuana products from SONORML. Police said they believe the money is from illegal drug sales.
At Puffin' Stuff, officers say they collected about a pound of marijuana, 41 grams of hashish, edible marijuana products, tinctures, seeds and other assorted items. Fifty dollars in cash also was seized. Similar items were seized from the other dispensaries and the residences. In all, about $4,000 in cash was seized in the raids.
After the hearing, Berger said he had concerns about the timing of the raids, which caused the defendants to be arrested before a four-day weekend (Friday was a furlough day for state court staff). Also, some of their charges originally showed up as murder citations in the court records, which clearly caused confusion for the court and contributed to the extremely high bail amounts, he said.
"That is something we are going to need to address," Berger said.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.