Marijuana returned to caregiver

October 22, 2007

Howard Pankratz, Denver Post (CO)

A small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia was returned by Jefferson County authorities today to a medical marijuana caregiver who was issued a summons at Mount Falcon Park earlier this year.

Anton Marquez, 29, walked out of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department this afternoon with the seized items, ending what Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, said was an ordeal of six months for Marquez.

Marquez provides marijuana to his father and brother, who suffer from epilepsy. He also takes it himself, he said, because of a brain tumor.

"I believe marijuana is the quintessential realization of the term life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Marquez said.

"I need it. There are some pain levels (that other pain killers) can't touch that some good medical marijuana can alleviate almost instantaneously, not to mention the nausea that is associated with intense migraines, sleeplessness and insomnia," Marquez said.

Vicente said Marquez appeared in court four times on a summons that charged him with possessing under an ounce of marijuana and possessing paraphernalia.

Each time he told the prosecutor that he was a medical marijuana caregiver, presented a copy of his Medical Marijuana registry card to the prosecutor and told the prosecutor she should dismiss the case, Vicente said.

"The law could not be more clear - that when presented with a medical marijuana caregiver card or a patient card, the case is to be dropped," Vicente said.

Finally, Vicente said, Marquez went to Sensible Colorado.

"I met with the prosecutor and I said, 'Listen, you have to drop this charge, you have no case'," Vicente said. "And she said, 'Oh, ok, I guess you are right. We are not going to bring charges'. And ultimately, a judge agreed."

The judge, Roy Olson of the Jefferson County Court, also ordered the seized items returned.

Pam Russell, spokesperson for the Jefferson County district attorney's office, said that prosecutors moved for dismissal of the case because Marquez had a medical marijuana registry card, he could legally be in possession of the small amount of marijuana he had in his car at the park and there was no evidence he had been smoking the marijuana.

Marquez said that he was stopped by a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy as he was attempting to turn around on a road in the park and wasn't permitted to leave. He said the deputy first thought the car was stolen - which proved not to be true - and then he spotted a glass pipe in the car.

Marquez said he explained why he had the pipe and marijuana.

"What we would like to see is police and prosecutors simply not bring these charges and not cite individuals who are indeed state licensed to possess and cultivate marijuana," Vicente said.

Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939 or hpankratz@denverpost.com



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