PORTLAND — When Ellen Rosenblum walked into a gathering of some of Oregon's most ardent medical marijuana advocates, the new attorney general was greeted like an old friend.
Don Morse, director of a Washington County medical marijuana dispensary, hugged the 61-year-old former judge. More than once, participants referred to the state's top law enforcement official simply by her first name, the Oregonian newspaper reported.
The response at the meeting Wednesday of the advisory committee to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program showed how much backers of the program hope they have found an ally in Rosenblum.
Pro-marijuana groups donated $200,000 to her campaign, about a third of her fundraising total against Dwight Holton, the former U.S. attorney in Oregon. Rosenblum said she'd make marijuana enforcement a low priority.
It was the first time an Oregon attorney general had met with the advisory panel, created by the Legislature it in 2005.
Rosenblum made no promises on policy changes sought by the committee.
"Hopefully there is a message in my being here," she said.
"I think the most important thing is to have trust, and hopefully there is at least some level of that," she said. "Trust doesn't come with a title. It comes with actions and, to a degree, with words."
Ben Mackaness, a panel member, wept as he spoke about his father's use of medical marijuana to cope with symptoms of cancer. "I want to know that you have our back," he said.
He called the committee members "toothless wonders," because they lack influence on medical marijuana policies, failing to get post-traumatic stress disorder added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana or to stop an increase in patient fees proposed by state officials.
"At every turn, the goal is just to quiet us and put us in a corner, and it just doesn't work anymore," Mackaness told Rosenblum. "I am begging for your help."