Medical marijuana confiscated

August 29, 2005

Cari Merrill, Rocky Mountain Collegian

Federal and state laws have clashed in opposition with one another and left those who claim marijuana eases suffering from painful illnesses such as cancer, wide-eyed and bewildered.

Even though a patient in Colorado may have a certificate to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes, they are still subject to prosecution under the federal law.

Timothy Haas' doctor recommended he use marijuana for medicinal purposes and his half-ounce of the drug was confiscated from him about three weeks ago in Denver, his lawyer said to the Associated Press

Haas' lawyer, Robert Corry, said due to an undisclosed medical condition, Haas uses the drug to ease severe pain and back problems.

The marijuana was found during a security check at Denver Hospital where Haas was visiting his brother, Corry said.

The officer confiscated the drug even after Haas showed him a copy of the doctor's recommendation that he use marijuana.

The line used to determine the legality of medicinal marijuana can be blurry.

Under state law, residents of Colorado are allowed to grow and possess small amounts of the drug if they have a certificate verifying the drug is for pain relief. Federal law, however, still considers the drug illegal.

Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, a non-profit organization that works pro bono on drug reform policy in Colorado, said state police are sworn to uphold state law. Since medical marijuana is illegal is the eyes of the federal law, it is federal authorities that should enforce federal law.

"Patients do have the right to possess this medicine," Vicente said. "The police officer was really out of line."

Tim Kelleher, junior construction management major , disagrees.

"It's plain and simple. The federal law says it's illegal so it's illegal," Kelleher said. "He clearly broke the law and should have to face the consequences."

However, junior engineering science major Krista VanBuren does not see a problem with patients possessing and using marijuana for medical purposes because of personal reasons.

VanBuren's mother used marijuana to ease pain before she died from brain cancer.

"If someone is in that much pain and (marijuana) helps them, I think it should be okay," VanBuren said. "That's why I feel that way - because of my mom



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