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Oregon: Top Legal Grower Hit by Violent Robbery

Bill Weinberg

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From Oregon comes the ominous news of the first violent robbery on a state-licensed cannabis grow since the recent wave of legalization initiatives. 

The Oregonian reported on Friday that James Bowman, 56, a licensed cultivator in the town of Wimer, was tied up and severely beaten when four masked intruders raided his home two weeks earlier. Bowman suffered a broken nose and black eyes during the Dec. 16 attack, while the assailants made off with his entire harvested crop—filling a rented U-Haul truck with hundreds of pounds.

Bowman was discovered hours later by two of his workers. The robbers left the door to his house open, with Bowman tied up inside.

Bowman, a longtime grower in southern Oregon, was hospitalized for several days.

Bowman started growing medical marijuana two years ago at his home in Wimer, a small town in southern Jackson Country, in the foothills of the Klamath Mountains. He moved to Wimer after federal agents raided his farm in nearby Ruch in 2012, before Oregon passed its general cannabis legalization initiative. Bowman was on track that year to be the state’s largest producer of medical marijuana and wasn’t charged with a crime after the 2012 raid—even though his entire crop was confiscated. 

In 2016, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission granted Bowman a producer license for his business, BlueSky Gardens. He is one of more than 350 licensed growers now producing for Oregon’s recreational market. Bowman holds a “tier two” license, the larger of the two types issued for outdoor production, allowing him to cultivate on up to 40,000 square feet of land.

Jackson County authorities say the case is being taken seriously. The Oregonian was unable to reach Bowman for comment, but fellow area grower Brent Kenyon expressed happiness at the official reaction.

“Growers have been calling law enforcement for years and gotten no response,” Kenyon said. “It’s absolutely awesome that we are seeing a response” to the robbery at Bowman’s property.

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