Feds to return medical-pot gear

August 26, 2004

Manny Gonzales , Denver Post

Federal authorities will return marijuana-growing equipment to a chronically ill Aurora man whose medicinal pot was seized by authorities in May.

As a result, Dana May will drop a lawsuit he filed earlier this week against the Aurora Police Department, claiming that officers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents wrongly seized 2 ounces of marijuana the state permitted him to possess.

While May won't get his pot back, he said the return of his equipment was all he needed to claim victory.

'It's almost a concession on their part, because they're saying: 'Here, you can have your equipment back, and we know what you're going to use it for,'' said May, 45. 'I think this is a big step forward for medical marijuana in Colorado.'

The equipment, a complex system that involved growing lamps and a carbon-dioxide pump, is valued at $4,000, May said.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said the growing equipment was not worth going through civil-court forfeiture proceedings, because of its value and the fact that May is not a criminal user.

'The grow equipment is being returned as long as any of it does not have marijuana residue on it,' spokesman Jeff Dorschner said.

Federal law outlaws marijuana possession, even for medicinal purposes. Despite Colorado's medical- marijuana law, which was passed in 2000, there have been several cases where permitted users were raided by federal agents.

Authorities would not say why they singled out May's house three months ago but said medical users commonly fall in with criminal users during investigations.

May suffers from a nerve ailment that causes severe burning sensations in his feet and legs.

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