Couple waits to get marijuana back from police

November 26, 2007

Ward Lucas, 9News KUSA TV (CO)

FORT COLLINS - A judge has ordered police to return dozens of marijuana plants to a young couple whose home pot-growing operation was raided last year.

The case is raising some interesting questions.

James and Lisa Masters say they grow marijuana for legal medicinal purposes. James says he has chronic pain and cyclic vomiting. Lisa has fibromyalgia and other ailments.

The couple says their use of medicinal marijuana has significantly changed their quality of life. They also say they are caregivers who provide medical marijuana to a number of other people in the Fort Collins area.

In June, Larimer County Judge James Hiatt dismissed the case against them citing an illegal search by police. On Monday, he ordered Fort Collins Police to return everything confiscated in the raid, including 39 marijuana plants.

The Masters' attorney, Brian Vicente said, "The state medicinal marijuana law requires authorities to maintain the plants and not destroy them or damage them in any way. I'm fascinated to see if the police have been following the law."

Fort Collins Police spokesperson Rita Davis said, "We still have the plants, but they're obviously not in a live state. We have no way to do that."

She said the county may be discussing whether to appeal the case.

The Masters and Vicente all acknowledge that the plants have probably been destroyed, but they say they intend to pursue a financial claim against the city.

"We believe the plants were probably worth at least $100,000," Vicente said. "A giveback of this much medicinal marijuana is unprecedented in Colorado and probably unprecedented nationally."

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