Friday, August 7, 2009

Medical Marijuana Patient in CO receives Meds Back

Acquitted, medical pot patient leaves Boulder court with drugs

Advocates, juror agree that sick people should decide how much pot is

By John Aguilar
Originally published 08:07 p.m., August 6, 2009
Updated 08:07 p.m., August 6, 2009

BOULDER, Colo. — Rolling out of the Boulder County Justice Center in
a wheelchair Thursday with a jumble of once-confiscated pot in his lap,
Jason Lauve smiled and waved to supporters after a jury acquitted him of
possessing too much medical marijuana.

Eight men and four women found the 38-year-old Louisville resident not
guilty of a felony drug possession charge, as well as lesser charges of
possessing marijuana and marijuana concentrate.

Lauve, who was prescribed marijuana to relieve the pain from a back
injury, burst out crying, grabbed his defense attorney and nearly fell
to his knees when the verdict was announced.

"Thank you so much," he yelled out to the jurors.

Boulder District Judge Maria Berkenkotter had to pause and admonish
Lauve's supporters as they applauded and called out during her reading
of the verdicts.

She ordered that more than two pounds of Lauve's marijuana supply, which
had been confiscated by police in a raid of his home last summer, be
returned to him.

"I have a right to live," Lauve said afterward. "All of us as patients
have a right to have our own life, not the government's life. We should
not be treated like criminals."

Laurie Borgers, a medical marijuana patient from Denver, said she was
elated by the verdict.

"I am happy and relieved as expected to see justice was served today,"
she said outside the courtroom. "They need to stop picking on sick

Lauve could have spent up to three years in prison had he been convicted
of the most serious charge.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said Thursday his office
will not appeal.

"That's the way the system works and we respect the jury's verdict and
the work they put into it," he said.

State law at core of case

Lauve's case cast a bright light on Colorado's 9-year-old medical
marijuana law, which lets patients with chronic pain and in debilitating
health obtain a state-issued ID card clearing them to grow and buy pot.

Lauve joined the state's medical marijuana registry after he was
severely injured by a snowboarder who plowed into him at Eldora Ski
Resort in 2004. He said the collision reduced him from an avid cyclist
and expert telemark skier to someone who relies on a cane and wheelchair
to get around.

He testified during his four-day trial that he smoked pot three times a
day and mixed the drug into his food once daily to relieve his pain.
Medical marijuana was the most effective pain management tool he had
come across, Lauve told the jury, and the drug allowed him to wean
himself off of several addictive opiate-based painkillers.

Law enforcement authorities, acting on a tip from a neighbor, seized 34
ounces of marijuana from Lauve's home on June 26, 2008. Prosecutors
claimed he violated the law by possessing far more than the 2 ounces of
usable pot and six plants permitted by the statute.

But Lauve and his lawyer countered that the constitutional amendment
voters approved in 2000 contains a provision that allows patients to
present an "affirmative defense," ultimately giving them the power to
determine the amount of marijuana appropriate for their needs.

Prosecutor Karen Lorenz contended in closing arguments that by ignoring
the limits in the statute, patients and caregivers would essentially
have "carte blanche" to possess whatever amount of pot they wanted,
gutting the law's intent.

"There's no doctor to support this, there are random numbers being
thrown around based on what he thinks he needs on a day-to-day basis,"
Lorenz told the jury. "That's not what the medical marijuana statute is

Lauve's attorney, Rob Corry, argued that prosecutors never came close to
proving that his client was doing anything other than legally medicating
himself and treating pain that only he could gauge.

"There is no evidence that he had more than what was medically necessary
to treat his severe debilitating medical condition," Corry said. "Who
gets to decide what is medically necessary?"

'We believed you'

Jury foreman Roger Grady said after the trial that he and his 11
colleagues simply attempted to interpret the state law as "common men"

"We believed you," he told Lauve outside the courthouse.

Grady, 64, said it was clear that the best person to determine how much
medical marijuana a patient needs is the patient himself.

"We don't know what the limit is for medical marijuana, and the
prosecution didn't produce anyone who knew what that limit was," he

If prosecutors were using Lauve as a "test case" for how the state's
medical marijuana law should be applied, Grady said, they chose the
wrong man. Grady accused prosecutors of not doing their "homework" and
bringing a relatively weak case against Lauve.

"We thought, 'This guy is doing everything in the law as it was
written,'" Grady said.

Garnett, the DA, said he didn't see the trial as a medical marijuana
test case.

"It's a careful process we pursue to analyze a case," he said. "We try
to treat every defendant individually and fairly."

But medical marijuana advocate Laura Kriho, of Boulder, said the case
was a waste of public resources that brought misery upon a man who did
nothing wrong.

She said she hopes Thursday's verdict will bring a fresh understanding
of the importance of letting patients take the lead in determining the
best treatments for themselves.

"The DA shouldn't be spending taxpayer dollars telling people how to
medicate themselves," she said. "This sets a precedent that Boulder
County juries are not going to convict medical cannabis patients for
using the amount they see fit."

Contact Camera Staff Writer John Aguilar at 303-473-1389 or

http://www.dailycam 2009/aug/ 06/boulder- medical-marijuan a-pa\
tient-acquitted- jury/

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