05/09/2012 01:07 pm ET Updated May 09, 2012

Medical Marijuana Takes Center Stage In Oregon Attorney General Race

Medical marijuana has become the defining issue of the race to decide Oregon's next attorney general. Dwight Holton, a former federal prosecutor, will face Ellen Rosenblum, a retired appellate court judge, who has been vocal in her support for Oregon's medical marijuana law, which allows for the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for patients with a doctor's recommendation.

The pot lobby has come out in support of Rosenblum. Drug Policy Action, a driving force behind the passage of Oregon's 1998 medical marijuana law, has thrown its weight behind her campaign.

“Drug Policy Action supports Ellen Rosenblum for attorney general because she supports the rights of Oregonians who are medical marijuana patients to have safe and legal access to their medicine," wrote Jill Harris, managing director of strategic initiatives for Drug Policy Action. "Oregon voters approved the medical marijuana law 14 years ago, and it should be respected."

“Dwight Holton’s hostility to this landmark Oregon law is unacceptable," added Harris, a Eugene native. "As a federal prosecutor and as a candidate for attorney general, Holton has made it clear that he does not respect Oregon’s medical marijuana patients and providers. We will not stand by and let Holton seize a new platform to undermine and attack a program that Oregon voters passed and continue to strongly support.”

Holton -- who served as an interim U.S. attorney from 2010 to 2011, authorizing a handful of controversial raids on pot farms in southern Oregon last fall -- has been outspoken in his opposition of the pot lobby. In a recent campaign letter he accused his opponent of benefiting improperly from her support for a hands-off approach to medical marijuana.

"More national weed money is coming in for Ellen every day," wrote Holton, according to Oregon Live. "It is surprising that someone who has spent the last 22 years as a judge is willing to sacrifice her legal credibility by effectively promising not to enforce the law if she's elected attorney general -- but that's precisely what Ellen has done."

Holton has positioned himself as the law-and-order candidate, receiving backing from Oregon district attorneys and county sheriffs as well as many public employee's unions, enabling him to take the lead in fundraising with $536,000 to Rosenblum's $416,000 as of Tuesday.

Oregon’s voting is done entirely by mail, and with no Republican in the race, the state's Democratic primary will determine the next attorney general as early as July 11. Ballots must be posted by May 15.

Outgoing Attorney General John Kroger will be starting as president of Reed College, a prestigious liberal arts school in Portland where the unofficial motto is "communism, atheism and free love."