Cops return marijuana to medical user

August 29, 2005

Felix Doligosa Jr., Rocky Mountain News

Timothy Haas felt equal parts redemption and queasiness Monday as he picked up a plastic bag containing half an ounce of marijuana at the Denver Police Department.

"I just want to go home and lie down," said Haas, 38. "The marijuana will calm me down."

Denver police returned the marijuana to Haas after authorities confiscated the drugs more than a month ago. Haas, who is from Denver, is prescribed to use medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress syndrome and post-concussion syndrome.

Haas said he suffered the ailments when he was hit in the head with a bat and stabbed three times in the chest in an attempted robbery at his wine business in 2001. Haas started using medical marijuana three years ago to deal with pain such as muscle spasms and ringing vibrations in his body.

On July 22, Haas said he was stopped for a security check at Denver Health Medical Center when he visited his brother, who was hospitalized from an automobile accident. Haas showed his medical papers to police when they found marijuana in his backpack.

The drugs were taken away. Haas was never charged.

Robert Corry Jr., Haas' attorney, said he had threatened to file a lawsuit if the marijuana was not returned to his client. The drug was returned in a plastic bag and was dry, Haas said.

"This shows Colorado's medical marijuana program is alive and well," said Corry. "He wishes he didn't have to go through a lawyer to get it back."

Haas said he uses marijuana because it is more potent than pills and it lets him be more active. Haas, who is unemployed, said he would get "knocked out" after taking roughly 360 prescribed pills per month.

"It (marijuana) gave me my life back," he said. "I'm an able-bodied person."

Colorado is one of 10 states that allows people with certain medical conditions to use and grow marijuana with a doctor's approval.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people who use marijuana legally for medical purposes can still be prosecuted under federal drug laws. The ruling did not, however, overturn state laws.

Corry said this was the first time in Colorado since the June ruling that police have returned confiscated medical marijuana to a person.

"I'm the voice for all the terminally ill and legitimate marijuana users who can't get out of bed," Haas said. "It's the last thing a terminal man wants to go through."

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