Public outcry against a series of raids on Jackson County marijuana dispensaries continued Friday as a long line of sign-waving protesters marched around the jail and demanded the release of four people arrested on felony drug charges.
Among them was Brandi Rodriquez, 27, who hefted a sign reading "Give me back my mom and dad; they are not criminals."
"My mother is very thankful for the community's support," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez's parents, Leland and Lori Duckworth, were arrested Thursday at the Southern Oregon NORML, or SONORML, center on West Sixth Street in Medford.
The Duckworths each were charged with 22 counts of conspiracy to deliver marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school. Lori Duckworth is the executive director of SONORML and a vocal advocate of cannabis.
The protest began on the steps of Medford City Hall, where cheers of support rang out when Lori Duckworth placed a phone call to her daughter. Members of the crowd gathered around Rodriguez's phone to hear Duckworth's voice.
"She had a seizure in the jail last night and is not getting her medicine," Rodriguez said.
The Duckworths remained lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $550,000 bail, an amount Rodriguez calls excessive.
"You don't see violent criminals with that high of bail," she said.
Meanwhile, officers with the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement, or MADGE, team continued Friday to sift through the evidence seized at the four dispensaries and the residences of those who were arrested.
MADGE Lt. Brett Johnson characterized the dispensaries as storefronts in which illegal marijuana was sold at "black market prices."
"We are treating this like any other drug case," Johnson said. "There are people being reimbursed for the sale of marijuana and that is against state law."
Police from several agencies descended on properties in Medford, including SONORML, Puffin' Stuff on Crater Lake Avenue and The Green Compass on East McAndrews Road.
In addition, officers raided The Compass on Second Avenue in Gold Hill.
David James Bond, 44, who is affiliated with Puffin' Stuff, was arrested on eight counts of conspiracy to deliver marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school.
He was lodged in jail on $200,000 bail. Michael Robert Schanno, 40, owner of The Green Compass and The Compass, was charged with four counts of conspiracy to deliver marijuana, four counts of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, delivery of marijuana and manufacture of marijuana. He was lodged on $550,000 bail.
MADGE officials on Friday released a partial list of items seized from the businesses and residences.
Officers collected nearly 12 pounds of marijuana, 94 plants, $2,752 in cash, documents, computers and edible marijuana products from SONORML, officials said.
Johnson said the cash is believed to be the proceeds from illegal drug sales.
At Puffin' Stuff, officers snatched around 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, around $4,000 was seized in the raids.
MADGE said it found firearms at the Duckworths' home. Johnson said the department always seizes guns at suspected drug houses.
"They will use firearms as protection because of the illegal drug sales," he said.
Rodriguez disputed this, saying that her parents kept small-caliber guns in the home, but they were not used for protection.
"They aren't these big-time drug dealers," Rodriguez said. "These are just old family guns."
SONORML volunteer Keith Hoover said the center is without cannabis to distribute to card-carrying patients, but its doors will remain open if people want to stop in for other reasons.
"If they come in and arrest me, then I will go to jail, but SONORML isn't going anywhere," Hoover said. "We are not doing anything illegal. They say we are making all this money off selling drugs, but it was a struggle to keep it open every month. We don't do this for money. We do it to provide people with medicine."
The accused could not appear in court on Friday for arraignment because the courthouse was closed for a state furlough day. They most likely will appear in court on Tuesday, following Memorial Day.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email email@example.com.