Six officers cleared in Colorado pot seizure

July 21, 2005

, Rocky Mountain News

A federal judge has thrown out contempt charges against six officers who seized a Routt County man's medical marijuana and growing equipment in 2003.

Colorado U.S. District Judge Walker Miller ruled Wednesday that the six officers - one federal agent and five local officers who were deputized as federal agents - are immune from prosecution because federal law trumps state law. 

Colorado allows people certified by physicians and registered with the state to grow and use limited amounts of marijuana for medical reasons, usually to relieve pain, nausea and lack of appetite.

Federal law prohibits all growing and use of marijuana, with rare exceptions. The Supreme Court ruled recently that federal law governs, but federal agents rarely target users of small amounts of marijuana.

Donald Nord, the Routt County man whose marijuana and equipment were seized, was charged in state court, but the charge was dismissed. He never was charged with any federal crime. A Colorado judge ordered the return of his marijuana and equipment, and all but some of his marijuana and two pipes were returned.

The judge then cited the law officers for criminal contempt for refusing to return the rest of Nord's property. Miller dismissed that contempt citation.

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