Nevada medical marijuana activist arrested on drug charge

June 16, 2005

Ken Ritter, Associated Press

A medical marijuana activist was in custody Thursday after his second arrest in 17 months on felony drug charges.

A lawyer for Pierre Werner, 33, said the arrest on state charges was a law enforcement effort to pressure Werner after the Supreme Court's decision this month that state medical marijuana laws don't protect users from federal prosecution. Werner also faces state marijuana possession charges from a previous arrest.

'The DEA is flexing their power,' lawyer Ryan Mortier said after visiting Werner at the Clark County jail in Las Vegas. 'They're saying they're not going to tolerate all the media attention he's been getting.'

Mike Flanagan, assistant special Drug Enforcement Administration agent in Las Vegas, acknowledged a DEA agent went to Werner's home in Henderson after police served a warrant at the house Wednesday and arrested Werner.

But while federal agents were monitoring Werner's case, Flanagan said it was being handled by Las Vegas police and state prosecutors.

Werner faces felony charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell, and maintaining a place to sell a controlled substance, Las Vegas police Officer Jose Montoya said.

Werner was due Friday in Las Vegas Justice Court, his lawyer said.

The nation's highest court ruled 6-3 on June 6 that state medical marijuana laws don't protect users from federal prosecution. Nevada is one of 10 states that allow registered medical patients to use marijuana with a doctor's approval.

Werner has said he uses marijuana to relieve symptoms of bipolar disorder, and wants to be able to provide marijuana to others registered with the state Department of Agriculture for use of medical marijuana. State officials say about 600 people are in the program.

Werner was arrested in January 2004 and charged with possessing 27 marijuana plants at his home. He was dropped from the state's medical marijuana registry because criminal charges are pending from that arrest, Mortier said.

Werner's company, Primary Caregivers and Consultants, helps people who need medical marijuana find a doctor and grow the plants.

He has tried unsuccessfully to obtain business licenses to serve as a marijuana consultant and to open a lounge where medical marijuana could be smoked.

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