The Associated Press, Sept. 24, 1997

Police raid clinic that dispenses marijuana as medicine

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Police on Wednesday raided a downtown Portland clinic that dispenses marijuana as medicine for sick and terminally ill people.

The raid came after a Portland Police Bureau investigation showed the Alternative Health Center was selling marijuana to a variety of customers, healthy or not, said Lt. Cliff Madison, police spokesman.

Undercover officers bought marijuana brownies, cookies and packages of marijuana at the Alternative Health Center, even though the officers showed no signs of being ill, Madison said.

"Basically, they would say they have a sore back or something, and that was good enough," Madison said. "They were selling marijuana to anybody that would come in and sell their story to them."

No arrests were made, but police seized six pounds of marijuana and $3,500 in cash.

Several tenants complained police busted down doors without warning.

"They were looking for anything and everything, thinking that the whole building was some sort of compound for pot growers," said Jeffrey Hood, 28, co-owner of Starbass Records. "It's not really fair to see cops come and bust every door down when we're a legitimate business."

Police also used search warrants to recover business records related to the clinic at homes in Beaverton, Scappoose and Aloha. Packaged marijuana and several guns also were seized at the Aloha home.

One of the homes belongs to Diane Densmore, an advocate for medicinal marijuana who runs the clinic.

"I'm sorry for my friends, my sick friends," a tearful Densmore told Portland's KGW-TV. "I hope I haven't let them down too bad."

Densmore has said she suffers from a variety of ailments including back pain and arthritis, and that smoking pot relieves some of her symptoms. She was convicted in 1990 of marijuana possession and sentenced to two years of community service.

The Alternative Health Center opened in January with only a few clients, but soon hundreds of people were frequenting the clinic, housed in a tenement building.



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