Lawyer: State law prevails in medical marijuana case

January 29, 2004

Mike McPhee, Denver Post

A Steamboat Springs lawyer argued before a federal judge Thursday that law enforcement officers who confiscated a cancer patient's marijuana were not acting under federal authority.
 
Thus, argued attorney Kristopher Hammond, they were subject to state law and should be held in contempt for not returning the marijuana to the patient.
 
But Department of Justice attorney Michael Hegarty argued that the officers who went into Don Nord's apartment in Hayden on Oct.
14 were all deputized Drug Enforcement Administration agents acting 'under the color' of federal law.
 
Nord, 57, has a Medical Marijuana Registry card issued by Colorado to smoke marijuana for pain related to cancer. Six officers, five of them local and one a DEA agent, used a state search warrant to confiscate his pot plants, 5 ounces of loose marijuana, growing equipment, a pipe and his registry card.
 
When state prosecutors refused to charge Nord, a state judge told the officers to return everything. They did except for the loose marijuana and the pipe.
Hammond filed a contempt motion against the six for violating state law and a judge's order to return the drug. A contempt hearing is scheduled for Monday.
 
But Hegarty moved the case to federal court this week.


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