Couple says their pot is for medicinal use

October 25, 2007

, Associated Press

NEW CASTLE, Ind. -- A couple charged with growing and possessing marijuana say they will plead not guilty because they were growing the illegal drug for medicinal purposes.

Police said it's an unusual defense because Indiana is not one of several states that allow marijuana use for medical reasons.

"That is a first for us, to have a prescription for marijuana shoved in our face while we're reading a warrant," said State Police Senior Trooper Ron Halbert.

Jeffrey L. Johnson, 46, and his wife, Bonnie L. Johnson, 48, were arrested Tuesday at their Henry County home and were charged with cultivating marijuana, possession of marijuana and maintaining a common nuisance. They were released from the Henry County Jail after posting bond.

"We're going to plead not guilty and we'll take it to the Supreme Court if we need to," Jeffrey Johnson said.

Police said they found an indoor growing operation with 23 marijuana plants and nearly a pound of processed marijuana.

The investigation began at the Johnsons' business, Wine-N-Vine, which sells home beer brewing equipment and indoor gardening equipment. The company's Web site states, "Home brew and home grown. Do it yourself and enjoy it yourself! Don't tell anyone!"

Jeffrey Johnson said his wife has brain trauma and pain and needs marijuana to cope. Johnson gave police a copy of a 2003 prescription by a Florida doctor.

"Bonnie Johnson has seizure disorders and migraine headaches," the note reads. "She uses marijuana for medical reasons."

Jeffrey Johnson said he and his wife are "law-abiding, God-fearing citizens."

But Halbert was not sympathetic.

"Until Indiana changes its law, she needs to move to Canada or California," the trooper said.

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