That is, until tragedy struck May 23, 2013.
The State of Oregon, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, and Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement (MADGE) raided the businesses and arrested the owners. During the raid several items were seized including patients’ medicine, computers and patient files while the owners were detained inside the facility along with everyone who happened to be inside.
Lori was the only member of the group not allowed to speak throughout the ordeal. As a result of the raids, Lori and Lee were originally arrested and booked on 22 felonies with an inordinately high bail of $550,000 each. A total of 27 charges for Lee and 28 for Lori, were filed against including racketeering, distribution within 1,000 feet of a school (although that regulation didn’t exist at the time), conspiracy, money laundering and possession, a charge that is enhanced due to the volume of cannabis seized.
More than a week after their arrest and only after the first judge recused himself, a new judge ordered Lori’s bail reduced to $5,000 and Lee’s to $10,000. Upon release, they were placed under a no contact order for 25 days due to the conspiracy charges. This lack of contact compromised Lee’s health and well being, Lori is his caregiver for health needs in the home. They have lost almost everything Lori had earned in her 24-year career as a health specializing in Alzheimer’s, and it looks like their home is next.
They need to pay their legal fees, going into their trial together as “co-conspirators”, this July 15, Lee’s Birthday.
Lori and Lee are grandparents who have given back to their community for decades. They have given away over 22 pounds of cannabis to patients in need from their facility that has served over 4,000 patients since it had opened nearly five years ago.
They moved to Rogue Valley 21 years ago and raised their family there. Their facility catered to the needy, including a food bank and a clothing bank for those that needed extra help. They also had an energy assistance program available to their patients. They threw community functions and united the cannabis community through building a true sense of togetherness and a “pay it forward attitude,” according to Lori.
Setting high standards with annual events like Global Marijuana March, and being one of the main sponsors of Jefferson State Hemp Expo was part of it all. Lee was one of the first 500 patients in the state and they got involved with the program in the first year. Lori’s medical card came soon after. Lori began testifying to her representatives in 2010. As she became more involved, she helped propel Southern Oregon’s support of HB 3460 legalizing dispensaries in Oregon, and adding PTSD through SB 281. Lori, and her facility were awarded Freedom Fighter of the year in 2011 at the Cannabis Cafe in Portland.
The investigation into the facility began when Lori applied for a license to carry a concealed weapon, regardless of her medical cannabis card allowing her to consume cannabis, as a patient. Jackson County Sheriff Winters had originally decided that she and other OMMP patients couldn’t have the concealed weapon permits based on their medical cannabis patient status.
Another area woman, Cynthia Willis, went to the Oregon State Court of Appeals (Willis v. Winters) and won, allowing Lori’s lawyer to file paperwork for a court order forcing Sheriff Winters to issue her concealed handgun license. A Freedom Of Information Act request revealed that her facility went under investigation around the same time that she won her case and obtained her permit. Roughly six months later she and her facility were under investigation. At the same time, a school opened within a 1,000 feet of her facility, one year after she had opened.
The Duckworth’s have sold many of their possessions in order to pay their legal fees. Their funds, which were only $4,973 at the time of the raid, were confiscated, including their house payment and payment of their electric bill. They had paid taxes until their money was taken, and then they could no longer pay them. The family is struggling to make ends meet now more than ever, and the legal fees have really begun to pile up.
Lori’s health has been rapidly declining, as the stress from the case has cause an increase in her seizures. She has lost 52 pounds from the stress of the case, and now suffers PTSD from the entire ordeal. The Duckworths are losing their house due to inability to make the payments, so they cannot sell it to pay the lawyers. This family has done a lot to help the cannabis community and now they need our help.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Share this article across all your social media platforms urging others to do the same.
Donate to the Lori & Lee Duckworth Fund via Green Aid: The Medical Marijuana Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Live in Oregon? Court support is essential in winning the Duckworth’s case appeal. Please email Lindsey Rinehart, [email protected], to stay up-to-date with organizational efforts and court support.
Tell Governor John Kitzhaber and President Obama how you feel about the use of tax-payer funds to persecute a non-violent cannabis provider. Encourage your friends to do the same. Letters can be brief and to the point. Remember to keep all communications polite and respectful.
Governor John Kitzhaber
State Capitol Building
900 Court Street NE, 160
Salem, OR 97301
Fax: (503) 378-6827
Phone: (916) 445-2841
By Lindsey Rinehart, Executive Director and founder of the Undergreen Railroad