Medical marijuana returned to Fort Collins couple mostly ruined
December 03, 2007
Cara O’Brien, Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald (CO)Monday may have been the first day in Colorado history that someone got their marijuana back from the police.
Early Monday morning, flanked by attorneys, supporters and the media, Lisa and James Masters appeared at the Fort Collins Police Department to retrieve marijuana plants, growing equipment and other paraphernalia seized 16 month ago from what the Masterses say was a growing operation solely for medicinal marijuana.
“This is historic,” said Robert Corry, a lawyer for the couple. “It’s a beautiful day for medical marijuana.”
But the marijuana and equipment returned Monday were mostly dried out, broken or dead.
Plants were dried and dead in evidence bags, a glass bong was shattered.
The Masterses and their attorneys said they plan to seek compensation for the damage to all the equipment.
“The Fort Collins Police absolutely did not obey the state law,” said Brian Vincente, an attorney for the couple and executive director of Sensible Colorado, an organization that advocates for “effective drug policy.” “The police have destroyed the plants; they are all dead.”
In early August, 2006, the Masters home was raided by police after child welfare investigators saw marijuana growing in the home.
Their two children were taken from them, as were 39 plants, at least eight ounces of loose marijuana and growing equipment.
The charges were eventually dropped when the search of the home was ruled illegal.
And last week a judge ordered the marijuana plants and growing equipment returned.
James Masters, 30, said he suffers from chronic nausea and pain as well as cyclic vomiting. Lisa Masters, 32, said she has fibromyalgia and a barrage of other symptoms related to it.
The Masterses use the marijuana to help their symptoms, and sell it to patients with a variety of health problems.
“These people are good people, and they’re genuinely sick,” Vincente said.
But at the time of the raid, the couple did not have a license to grow medicinal marijuana.
At the time the marijuana was confiscated, the Masterses were not on the municipal marijuana registry, nor did they have a license, said Rita Davis, public information officer for the Fort Collins Police Department. “So it was treated like any other marijuana confiscation.”
So while the Masterses plan to inventory the returned items, the police officials say they never had an obligation to maintain the plants.
The Masterses now have a license for growing and distributing medicinal marijuana, and lost just a few weeks of business after their arrests in 2006.
James Masters said the family’s primary source of income comes from distribution of medicinal marijuana; income that pulled them out of a bad state they were in a few years ago.
“Today I’m paying taxes, I’m going to work every day,” James Masters said.
The Masterses’ attorneys say the law allows growing, use and distribution of medicinal marijuana without a license if the patient’s health warrants it and especially if a doctor has recommended it.
But Davis said that is untrue.
She said without the license every case of growing or distributing marijuana is treated like a criminal marijuana case.