Medford chiefs fight state fine on pot initiative

Medford's current and former police chiefs will know soon whether they successfully defended their right to comment on Oregon's medical marijuana initiative.

Medford police Chief Tim George and Randy Schoen, who retired as chief in June 2011, spent April 19 in Salem fighting a $75 fine for violating state election laws by allegedly advocating in the Mail Tribune against the passage of Measure 74.

The measure, which would have allowed state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, failed to pass.

"We both represented ourselves," George said. "The state was represented by an attorney from (the Department of Justice)."

George declined to discuss exactly what he and Schoen said to the administrative law judge who heard their case.

"We'll know in 30 days if the administrative law judge agreed with our arguments," George said.

The pair were notified in August that the Secretary of State's Elections Division ruled they'd stepped too far in outlining their perceptions of the negative impacts on police agencies should Measure 74 pass.

Medford police Deputy Chief Tim Doney and Oregon State Police Sgt. Erik Fisher each received warnings from the Elections Division for comments they made in Mail Tribune articles but were not fined.

Williams-based marijuana reform advocate Laird Funk filed complaints against all four the day after they were quoted about Measure 74. He claimed they violated state bans on public employees stumping for or against candidates or measures during work hours.

George has stated his comments to the Mail Tribune about impacts on the measure's passage were truthful, factual and not meant to influence voters.

Schoen, who is working in Sutherlin as a temporary chief of police, also has said he believed he did not skirt election law in his comments to the newspaper, and that he wants his due process.

George and Schoen both stated they did not want to simply pay the $75 to put it behind them and instead requested the hearing before a state hearings officer.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email

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