Dismissal among 16 motions filed at medical marijuana hearing

September 17, 2005

Donna Gray, Glenwood Springs Post-Independent

An attorney for a former Rifle man accused in a medical marijuana case filed a series of motions in 9th Judicial District Court in Glenwood Springs Thursday. Public defender Jamie Roth filed 16 motions prior to Gene Brownlee's trial, which is set for Nov. 28. The Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team arrested Brownlee, his wife Jennifer Ryan, his nephew Justin Brownlee and a friend, Drew Gillespie, on Aug. 2, 2004, in Rifle. TRIDENT had staked out the apartment on a tip from the caretaker of the apartment complex.

TRIDENT seized 130 marijuana plants from Brownlee and Ryan's apartment. Ryan maintained she was certified to grow and administer marijuana for medical purposes. Legally, she could have up to six plants or as many as she felt necessary to treat a given medical condition.

Brownlee contends he could grow pot legally because he has cancer.

According to the law, both medical marijuana users and their caregivers, in this case Brownlee and Ryan respectively, can possess up to six plants, of which no more than three can be in flower, or as many plants as they feel necessary to treat a given medical condition.

Ryan's case was dismissed in June on the grounds that sheriff's deputies illegally destroyed evidence, namely the marijuana plants.

The law stipulates that the plants taken in evidence must be kept alive during court proceedings and returned to the defendant if he or she is found not guilty of charges. However, the TRIDENT officers who seized the plants admitted in court they destroyed the plants, keeping only one leaf and pictures for evidence.

The dismissal was timely because the U.S. Supreme Court had recently decided that medical marijuana growers in states where the practice is legal could still face federal charges.

At Brownlee's hearing Thursday, Roth submitted one motion to dismiss the case based on destruction of evidence, and two motions based on suppression of evidence. The last two motions will be argued by both sides at a court hearing Oct. 4.

Brownlee is charged with various counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510; dgray@postindependent.com

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