- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The arrangement soured quickly: Prominent marijuana activist Paul Stanford leased land from a Yamhill County man to grow dozens of medical marijuana plants for his family and friends.

But the plants dried up in summer, and landowner Larry Trow, 67, plowed them under this month.

The two men sharply disagree over what led the operation to fail and have traded accusations about who’s to blame and who should pay.

Their tangled tale underscores Oregon’s hands-off approach to medical marijuana production. Despite a flourishing commercial medical marijuana industry that’s poised to pivot to a recreational market if voters approve Measure 91 next week, the state doesn’t regulate marijuana grow sites.

The Oregon Health Authority doesn’t inspect or license the sites, which supply not only the nearly 70,000 patients enrolled in the medical marijuana program but also the state’s newly regulated medical marijuana dispensary industry as well.

The state can verify for law enforcement whether an address is a valid medical marijuana grow site, but does little else, said Karynn Fish, a spokeswoman for the health authority.

“The state,” said Fish, “doesn’t visit the sites or regulate them in any way.”

Stanford, who operates medical marijuana clinics in Oregon and nationwide and was the sponsor behind Measure 80, the failed marijuana legalization effort in 2012, said he planned to grow medical marijuana for his family, including his wife, and business associates at Trow’s property.

Last spring, Trow, a retired construction worker with 20 acres of land outside Newberg, said he agreed to let Stanford use some of his land for his marijuana crop. He said Stanford offered him $30,000 as part of the deal. Stanford disputes Trow’s claim, saying it was Trow who came up with the figure.

By the time the planting was done by two of Stanford’s associates, Trow said, there were 75 marijuana plants in the ground. Stanford said he intended to give the marijuana away.

Oregon medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow up to six mature cannabis plants and 18 immature ones. If they choose not to grow their own marijuana, they can have someone else do it for them. Patients can sign over marijuana they don’t need or want to licensed dispensaries.

Trow kept a file of records, which he shared with The Oregonian, showing 13 medical marijuana patients listed his address as a grow site. Eight of those patients listed themselves as growers, and the rest designated someone else to grow for them at Trow’s property. All of but one registered with the state in May, the same month Trow said Stanford approached him with a proposal to grow pot on the property.

Trow said Stanford enrolled each patient, including wife Theresa Stanford, in the medical marijuana program, paying for their clinic and state application fees. Stanford said he could not recall whether he paid the clinic and other fees for the patients at Trow’s site.

Trow’s stepson, Robert Pasley of Hillsboro, was among the patients growing medical marijuana on the property. Trow said his 45-year-old stepson uses it to cope with symptoms of a degenerative neurological condition.

Trow said Stanford paid for Pasley’s fees to become a patient. Trow said only one of the patients came to the property to check on the plants, some of which by August appeared to be doing poorly. He said two people who worked for Stanford came to water the plants regularly, but Trow was critical of their efforts.

“They never fertilized the plants,” Trow said. “They never put mold agent on them. They didn’t water them enough. The plants were getting worse and worse all the time. They were starting to die.”

Trow said it was Stanford who came to him with the financial arrangement. Trow shared a typed agreement signed by both men and dated May 23. It shows Stanford agreed to pay Trow once the pot plants “matured.”

But Stanford said Trow made a demand for money once the plants were in the ground, a claim Trow disputes. Stanford said he paid Trow $500 a month to lease equipment Stanford didn’t need. Trow acknowledged that he received a monthly check for $430 from Stanford to use his equipment.

“One morning he came and showed this document to me and I did sign it,” Stanford said. “I regret that. The guy shortly after that said he was going to shoot me.”

Trow said he asked Stanford for payment in August, though the plants were still weeks away from harvest.

“‘Let’s settle up,’” Trow said he told Stanford. “He said he’d be out there tomorrow and he never came.”

Worried Stanford’s associates would remove the plants in the middle of the night, he parked his tractor in his driveway. He said one of Stanford’s assistants, Scott Burque, who is listed on Trow’s paperwork as a grower for two patients, including Stanford’s wife, said he would move the tractor so he could get to the grow site.

“I said, ‘Scott, if you tow that out of the way, I will shoot you,’” Trow said. “That is exactly what I said. I have every right to protect my property.”

Stanford said he was concerned enough about Trow’s behavior that he asked the two who took care of the plants to document their experiences. Stanford forwarded that document, which is dated Oct. 11 and signed by Frank Mahoney and Burque, to The Oregonian.

The pair wrote that they saw Trow spraying “unknown substances” on the plants, a claim Trow denied. Mahoney said he was uncomfortable on the property and noted that while he was watering the plants “Larry had his pistol shooting at gophers just two plants away.”

Stanford said he stayed away, fearing for his personal safety. “It was a really very bizarre situation,” he said. Trow denies making any personal threat to Stanford, saying the two never “had one bad word.”

This month, once it was clear the plants had been abandoned, Trow said he contacted the patients to ask them to come get their marijuana.

“I left messages,” he said. “Nobody returned my call. I said please come and get them. You have to come out here and take them down.”

Earlier this month, the marijuana plants were 4 feet to 6 feet tall, but thin, with brown and yellow leaves and, in some cases, dead. Trow, who contacted The Oregonian and KATU about his flap with Stanford, hopped on his tractor on Oct. 14 and began pulling up the plants one by one, as the television cameras rolled.

His wife, Carol, 65, looked on. She said the couple agreed to grow pot on their land because they needed the money.

“This has been a fiasco,” she said.


Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com

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