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Sheriff: no medical marijuana in jail for Vickoren

MEDFORD — A convicted sex offender with a medical marijuana card for migraines will need to find another way to treat his headaches in jail.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters told the Mail Tribune newspaper that Dennis Vickoren will not be allowed to use medical marijuana while serving his 30-day sentence, beginning Sept. 20.

"We never have. Never," Winters said. "And I don't see that changing."

Vickoren, 58, a former Rogue Valley Transportation District bus driver and Sunday school teacher, pleaded guilty August 18 to two felony counts of encouraging child sexual abuse.

Vickoren was sentenced on the same day and on the same charges as James Auchincloss, the half-brother to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The pair were accused of viewing pictures of boys in sexual poses at Auchincloss's home in Ashland.

At the sentencing, Vickoren's attorney, Jeni Feinberg, stated her client had a legal prescription for medical marijuana and asked Jackson County Circuit Judge Mark Schiveley to write a court order allowing the use.

Schiveley declined. The judge also declined to discuss the specifics of Vickoren's case when contacted by the Mail Tribune.

"Hypothetically, as a judge, I am reluctant to make a ruling that says it's fine," Schiveley said last week.

Vickoren and Feinberg did not return calls by the Mail Tribune.

Portland attorney Leland Berger assisted in drafting the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act and represents medical marijuana patients and their caregivers statewide.

Under state law, a patient's right to medical marijuana use is not protected while they are in police custody, or residing within a correctional facility, Berger said.

Using medical marijuana "in a correctional facility does not exempt you from prosecution," said Berger. "If you use, you could be arrested and prosecuted."

But he said the question of whether Vickoren can use medical marijuana while serving three years on probation under his sentence may be a matter of legally determining what constitutes "care and custody."

Berger said usage restrictions soon may be facing legal challenges based on the Americans with Disability Act.

"The problem is that judges and prosecutors want to play doctor without being a part of the medical society," Berger said.

Schiveley said he and other judges are struggling with Oregon's medical marijuana laws and court policies.

Doctors in Oregon and other states can legally prescribe marijuana. And patients have a right to use their preferred medicine. But marijuana still is listed as a narcotic under federal law, Schiveley said.

"And there are instances where the two rights are in direct conflict," he said.