Motion to dismiss filed in fourth medical marijuana case

January 09, 2006

Donna Gray, Post Independent

Charges against a fourth defendant in a medical marijuana case are likely to be dropped this week. Deputy District Attorney Scott Turner filed a motion to dismiss the case against Justin Brownlee, who is charged with various counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Similar cases have been dismissed against Gene Brownlee, Justin’s uncle, and Gene Brownlee’s ex-wife, Jennifer Ryan, because of mishandled evidence. Without the physical evidence prosecutors would be unable to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

On Aug. 2, 2004, the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team confiscated 130 marijuana plants from Ryan and Brownlee’s apartment in Rifle. They arrested Ryan, the Brownlees and Drew Gillespie for growing and selling marijuana.

Gillespie pleaded guilty in December 2004 to conspiracy to sell/distribute. He received a deferred sentence and was ordered to do 75 hours of public service.

Ryan said she was certified to grow and administer marijuana for medical purposes. Gene Brownlee claimed he had cancer, which he treated with marijuana.

According to the arrest affidavit, Justin Brownlee told police he assisted in the selling of marijuana Brownlee and Ryan grew and also obtained marijuana from them for his own use.

Brownlee and Ryan told police they never sold their marijuana to anyone without a permit.

According to Colorado law, she could have up to six plants or as many as she felt necessary to treat a given medical condition. The law also stipulates that the plants taken in evidence must be kept alive. However, the TRIDENT officers who seized the plants admitted in court they destroyed the plants, keeping only one leaf and pictures for evidence.

Judge Dan Petre will rule on the motion on Thursday, Jan. 12.

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