Medical Marijuana: Colorado Case Will Test State's Law

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #468)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

A Fort Collins couple will be the first in Colorado to seek to use the state's medical marijuana law as a defense to marijuana cultivation and distribution charges. James and Lisa Masters pleaded not guilty to the charges last Friday and face a March trial.

The couple was arrested last August when police arrived at their home to check on the welfare of their two children, girls aged four and six. According to a police affidavit, a police officer smelled marijuana in the house, and the couple told officers they had doctors' recommendations to use marijuana, which they were growing for that purpose.

The Masters and their attorneys filed a motion last fall to have the charges dismissed, arguing that they were protected by the state's medical marijuana law. The couple, both registered medical marijuana patients, said they grew the pot solely for themselves and other patients on the state registry. But in October, District Judge Jolene Blair rejected that motion, saying the couple did not have proper documentation showing they are caregivers for registered patients.

According to the Colorado criminal code, the state Department of Public Health and Environment is charged with creating "a confidential registry of patients," not patients and caregivers. But the code also charges the department with creating an application form for would-be patients, and on that form, patients are required to fill in information about caregivers.

Last fall, when the Masters were first arraigned, their attorney, Rob Corry, argued they were within the bounds of the state medical marijuana law. While there is no state registry card for caregivers, he said, the Masters were designated as such by properly registered patients. "The majority of voters in this state said medical marijuana should be available. My hope here is the jury will follow the law and show some compassion for patients who need help," Corry said.

But at least one Colorado official argued that in order for someone to have protection as a caregiver, patients must list that person on their applications. It appears that the Masters case will resolve that apparent ambiguity in the law. If the Masters lose, they face up to six years in state prison and the loss of their children, whom police seized after their arrest despite the lack of any evidence of abuse or neglect. It took the couple eight weeks to win the return of their children.

"The Masters are being targeted for helping sick people. This test case has the potential to increase vital access to medical marijuana by expanding the legal definition of 'caregiver' to allow those with significant responsibility for the care of seriously-ill individuals to cultivate and provide them with medical marijuana," said co-counsel Brian Vicente.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Unless the prosecution has hard evidence that this couple was selling/distributing to non-patients (people who were not on the Colorado state registry), this case should have been dismissed immediately.

Innocent before proven guilty, right? They have their state cards and their doctor recommendations, so jump the frick back off them, unless you have evidence that they were selling to non-patients. Judge Blair not only had the spirit of the law on her side, she disregarded her duties to Colorado State Law when she did not immediately dismiss this case.

Why aren't all the lawyers getting together and making a serious ruckus?? The implications and precedence of this case are much bigger than medical access rights. Lawsuits should be flying from all the lawyers who have a stake in states' rights and our civil rights. Sue, Sue, Sue, sue, sue.

All you weallthy lawyers do some damn pro bono work!!! Don't let this couple be separated from their children again, because cowardice is the rule in Colorado

Just take one look at the incredibly sensational photo of their children at Court. The kids aren't scared of their parents; they look terrorfied that an unjust, broken system will once again take them from their parents.

This is truly horrific. My hands are shaking to the point it is hard to type.

With all the real, violent crime against people, do we really want to be spending our tax dollars prosecuting people who are helping sick people feel better?

Fri, 01/12/2007 - 6:23pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Damn these cruel, degenerate alcohol supremacist bigots

Fri, 01/12/2007 - 8:29pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

this is just plain wrong. these people werent drug dealers, where were the guns and scoresheets? leave them alone and dont ever do that again to anyone else. in a time where arabic looking people that fly on commercial aircraft can sue and win $$$ big time these people should do the same for violation of their civil rights. the bastards.

Thu, 01/18/2007 - 1:12pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I can't believe pilots can't get an exemption for the use of mj. I fly so much better after a couple hits, I think its criminal that I have to hide it and sneak a couple tokes while doing my preflight checks. Good thing the baggers are cool

Tue, 04/10/2007 - 7:15pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

They were caught having excess plants than what they were allotted to produce, so there answer was we are also caregiving for others. The couple says that patients had filled in there names correctly and listed them as caregivers, but something is fishy here and I think that is why the state is pushing the case further.

This is a simple case of a Math Problem.

either A.) They had exactly as many plants as they were allowed to have for themselves and X number of patients.

or B.) they were over the allotment.

Tue, 06/10/2008 - 12:56am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If you notice taking children is just one part of the however-many-they-can pronged attacks, then they take your freedom, your money, your time, your drivers license, make you do labor for free, and just all around get anything that they can make an excuse for. Getting the absolute most out of you that they can once your even close to being deemed "a bad person" unless you have money and connections. or a judge{unelected enforcer} or a cop{tax collector}. wow i hate this country, make me feel foolish to be a vet..... guess thats why they target the young and unexperienced in life.

Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:13am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Less of a simple math problem and more of an algebraic equation! 3 mature harvestable plants and 3 non harvestable and only 2 0z of consumable. so if its just those 2 and one more person thats 18 plants 9 non harvestable and 9 harvestable plants and 4 oz of consumable buds.... i wonder how hard that would be to litigate.

Wed, 09/17/2008 - 1:20am Permalink

Add new comment

Source URL: